There are nearly 6 million Americans currently living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to keep rising. And what terrifies so many about neurodegenerative disease is that its symptoms destroy what makes us who we are.
Unfortunately, many people think there is nothing they can do to ward off dementia. This isn’t true, and the more is learned about the brain and brain health, the more it appears that causes of disease can sometimes be treated.
Keep reading to discover the 10 causes of dementia that can be treated, so that you or your loved ones can potentially avoid developing this disease.
Causes of Dementia: Depression the Most Common
Depression is among the most common mental health issues in the world, and a form of depression can mimic dementia. Psuedodementia is not actually dementia, but is brought about by long-term mental illness. In addition, adults with depression over the age of 50 are twice as likely to develop vascular dementia. They’re also 65% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
By treating depression early on, patients were able to minimize their risk of dementia, especially if they were able to learn how to manage stress better.
Diets that are plant-based with very little processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats have been shown to aid in brain health. A diet that was designed for heart health, called the Mediterranean diet, was combined with another nutritional approach called DASH. The combination was shown to decrease the risk for cognitive decline by 30-35%.
In addition to avoiding processed foods, be sure to ingest Omega 3 fats, and watch your portions. Obesity increases the risk for dementia.
Another common and easily avoidable cause for dementia is over-medication. Some prescription drugs, as well as ove the counter medications, can cause a state in users that mimics dementia. Anti-cholinergic drugs are among the culprits, which are anti-histamines such as Bendadryl or certain sleep aids like Unisom.
Antidepressants can also be contributors. It’s important to note that lack of quality sleep can also contribute to dementia risk. If you’re relying on OTC sleep medications, you’re adding even more insult.
Focus on sleep quality and hygiene, and you’ll lower your disease risk.
Any trauma to the brain, such as a blow to the head or a stroke, can increase the risk of dementia. Practice common sense head safety, such as wearing a helmet and seat belt at all times. And every other lifestyle habit that can prevent stroke will benefit this risk factor, too.
Also known as water on the brain, this is a condition where spinal fluid builds up inside the skull causes symptoms such as walking problems, urinary incontinence, and memory loss. It’s not a rare illness, either. Some 700,000 Americans have this problem, but only 20% are diagnosed.
Long-term dementia can result if it goes untreated.
Urinary Tract Infection
UTI’s are a common illness in the elderly but often go untreated. Older adults are less likely to show the recognizable symptoms. But if a UTI is left untreated, it can lead to symptoms that mimic dementia. Help your older family members maintain urinary health, and be aware that antibiotics can clear up these dementia-like symptoms once the UTI is treated.
Even mild hearing loss in an older adult can increase the risk for developing dementia by twofold. Moderate hearing loss increases risk threefold, and severe hearing loss increases risk by fivefold.
The worse the hearing loss, the worse the dementia risk and severity. So be sure to get your older family members checked for hearing health. Early intervention along with a hearing aid can reduce this risk.
It’s vital for older brains to remain engaged with their surroundings, and the people they care about. By boosting their hearing ability, you ensure they stay cognitively active in their lives.
Arteriosclerosis, otherwise known as hardening of the arteries, can have a big impact on brain health and developing dementia. It reduces blood flow to the brain, which significantly increases risk. A good rule of thumb to remember is that whatever benefits your cardiovascular health, will benefit your brain health.
If you have great cardiovascular health, your brain health is also likely to be in good condition.
Alcohol abuse can harm brain cells. The memory and coordination deficits of long-term alcoholism are well known. But what’s less known is the vitamin B1 deficiency that can also result. Low levels of Thiamine in the brain can lead to greater risk for dementia.
More and more studies are emerging that are showing alcohol in any amount to be potentially damaging to brain health. So, be aware of your intake and consider reducing or eliminating alcohol.
There are now an estimated 30 million Americans with diabetes. Having a higher blood sugar can lead to memory and other cognitive impairments. This can cause dementia-like symptoms, and also lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Following the recommended nutrition protocol as well as following a strict exercise regime is a good way to avoid developing diabetes.
Battling Dementia: You Have More Power
This guide has outlined common causes of dementia and some ways you can start to prevent it. Committing to some lifestyle changes is among the best things you can do. You can also keep an eye on the older people you love because they might be exhibiting symptoms of issues that can mimic dementia or lead to it.
If you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, or if you’re simply preparing for an assisted living facility, be sure to check out our resources.