Dementia is more than just an increase in forgetfulness. While it does start affecting short-term memory first, it can also change the way you think, speak, reason, feel and act. It’s much more likely to affect an older person, but it’s not a normal part of aging – it’s a syndrome that’s one of the main causes of elderly disability.
Right now there is no cure for dementia, but studies report good news: dementia diagnosis rates are quickly dropping. A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association reported that dementia rates in people over 65 decreased from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012. Even without a known cure or an effective medication, preventative measures can help lower the rate of adults who develop dementia.
What Are the Types of Dementia?
There are many different forms of dementia. One of the most common is Alzheimer’s disease, contributing to up to 70 percent of cases. There is also vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.
Why the Decline?
While researchers aren’t completely sure which factors directly led to the decline in dementia rates, they have a number of theories.
First, doctors today are growing more and more focused on keeping dangerous conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes under control. Both of these conditions increase the risk of dementia as well as increase the risk of stroke, and having a stroke damages brain cells, leading to vascular dementia.
Second, researchers found that the population group in the second study had more years of education on average. More education could change the brain, potentially strengthening it against dementia, but there is also a socioeconomic factor. People with higher levels of education typically acquire more wealth throughout their lifetime, enabling them to live in healthy environments. It’s less likely that they will smoke, more likely that they exercise and they have better access to healthcare.
Lower Your Disease Risk
You can lower your risk of dementia by making lifestyle changes that promote heart and brain health. Follow a regular exercise routine and quit smoking. Make healthy diet choices and cut down on your alcohol consumption. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about how to keep it within a healthy limit. Make sure you’re managing your diabetes with care.
Get the Care You Need
Do you have the healthcare coverage you need to monitor heart and brain health? Talk to the team at My Senior Health Plan today and ensure you’re able to receive consistent care to keep your mind and body healthy as you age.