Wellness With Age: Three ways to reduce the risk of dementia

The word dementia is a Latin term which translates as a condition in which there is the loss of mind. Dementia itself is not a disease. It is an umbrella term to describe all mental and cognitive decline.

According to a report from the Alzheimer’s Society, 2 percent of the population 65 and older has some form of dementia, and for those over 90 the percentage increases to 33.

There are at least seven known forms of dementia with Alzheimer’s being the most prevalent.

Two other forms of dementia are vascular dementia which is caused by a break down of blood vessels within the brain. Lewy body dementia is caused by abnormal deposits of a specific protein in the brain. Most all of us know the grief caused by the long-term debilitating life of a loved one caused by dementia, specifically of Alzheimer’s. As scientists continue to study the brain and its diseases, they are discovering more forms of dementia, some of them causing a rapid decline.

The challenge is there is no one specific cause of dementia. There are (too) many causes and these vary from rare brain diseases to stress to an unhealthy lifestyle. Brain trauma, certain drugs and other health issues can all become precursors to any number of dementia conditions.

Examples of health issues which could contribute to dementia are liver disease, clinical depression, or thyroid problems.

Here is the good news. Only a few, rare forms of dementia are hereditary and it is possible to reduce, if not reverse, the risks of mental decline.

If you or a loved one is concerned about the onset of dementia, there are simple written and oral tests which help to determine if there are any signs of cognitive loss. These tests are also used to determine other mental decline, such as in brain cancers.

Here are three ways to significantly reduce the risk of dementia:

1 — Live a healthy lifestyle

Eating healthy, exercising, and drinking pure water are critical to our overall health. In addition, we need to take care of our mental health. Visiting with quality friends and being outside in nature are examples of improving mental health.

2 — Exercise the brain

Our brains becomes stronger with exercise, just like our muscles do. Experts published a long list of fun activities which stimulates brain function. Board games, puzzles and Sudoku are a few examples. Making music or learning a foreign language are two more examples.

One critical exercise for better brain function is diaphragmatic breathing,. This exercise gets oxygen deep into the brain cells, enabling them to function more efficiently. Also diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the vagus nerve which in turn tell the brain to relax, which helps to reduce stress.

3 — Check your hearing

Hearing loss is a giant risk factor for developing dementia. When a person is focusing on trying to understand what another person is saying, the brain is unable to process what the ear is hearing.

This can cause the person to draw away from people, which also increases cognitive decline. In addition, some causes of dementia can also cause hearing loss. Tests show hearing aides greatly reduce the risk of hearing-related dementia.

Email us your dementia stories at info@wellnesswithage.com. I personally reply to each and every email.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award-winning poet. See crystallinn.com.