Risk factors and prevention of Dementia

Dementia UK has highlighted some risk factors that may contribute to developing Dementia but there are ways in which you can reduce your risk or delay its impact.

There are some risk factors you, unfortunately, can’t change, these include:

Age:
people diagnosed with dementia tend to be over the age of 65. Over the age of 80 there is a one in six chance of developing dementia.
Ethnicity:
certain ethnic communities appear to be at higher risk of dementia than others. For example, South Asian and African or African-Caribbean people seem to develop dementia more often than white Europeans.
Gender:
more women are affected by dementia than men. Worldwide, women with dementia outnumber men two to one. Twice as many women over the age of 65 are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men whereas vascular dementia is diagnosed in slightly more men than women.
Genetics:
in rare cases, Alzheimer’s disease can be passed from one generation to another. This type of dementia usually affects people under the age of 65.

However, research suggests up to one in three cases of dementia are preventable. Modifiable risk factors include:

Diabetes
high alcohol intake
high blood pressure
lack of exercise
low educational attainment
obesity
poor physical health
smoking

 Ways in which you can reduce these risk factors are:

· Having regular health care checks with your GP. If you have a long-term condition like diabetes or thyroid problems, it’s important to keep it well managed
· Taking advantage of ‘well-person health checks’ at your GP surgery so your blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels are monitored and well managed
· Understanding what your prescribed medication is for and ensuring that you take the right dose, and that you have regular reviews with your GP
· Seeking support with your diet and monitoring of weight loss, if your weight has changed over the years, to ensure you’re eating healthily and the weight loss is maintained
· Drinking less alcohol. At most, you should aim to drink no more than 14 units each week. If you regularly drink much more than this, you’re at risk of alcohol-related brain damage
· Asking your GP about support to stop smoking, you’re more likely to be successful
· Keeping physically fit throughout your life; for example regular exercise like walking and swimming and group activities like tennis and fitness classes
· Making sure you keep socially active; talk to people in group situations as well as one to one
· Taking part in hobbies like art, woodwork, learning a new language, knitting, puzzles and listening to music. These will stimulate different areas of the brain and help with attention and concentration

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