By Kaycee Reyes
You see it all the time in movies and TV shows. Maybe you have experienced it firsthand yourself—the older you get, the more forgetful you are. If you are already in your 60s, you might blame it on age, that those many years that have passed hold many memories and things to remember, making you forgetful. But sometimes, it’s more than simply forgetfulness—it could already be dementia.
Is it forgetfulness, or dementia?
Dementia is oftentimes associated with forgetfulness, but it also affects other things you need in your daily life. According to The Cochrane Collaboration, a British organization formed to organize medical research and healthcare information, it affects your level of awareness to your surroundings, comprehension, learning, language, and judgment. Unlike in some TV shows or movies where forgetfulness happens due to a conk in the head, the onset of dementia is gradual. So gradual, in fact, that the signs and symptoms can be waved off simply as an everyday occurrence for the elderly set.
According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), the risk for dementia increases with age, with only two percent to 10 percent of cases starting before the age of 65. As of 2010, there were 35.6 million people all over the globe with dementia, and the figure is estimated to double every 20 years, reaching a worrisome number of 65.7 million people by 2030.
What causes dementia?
A lot of factors go into the possibility of having dementia, and there are others that you cannot avoid that will put you at risk.
The most significant factor of dementia is age. If you are older than 65 years old, the risk of dementia doubles every five years. If it is in your genes or a part of your family history, or have Down syndrome, those are included as part of the non-modifiable factors in getting dementia. Drug side-effects somehow affect the risk of getting dementia as well, such as those taking drugs for depression, anxiety, sedatives, narcotics, and others. Gender also plays a big role—females are at higher risk of getting dementia compared to males.
Unfortunately, there is still no cure. There are, however, still a number of lifestyle factors that can be modified to decrease your risk or help stop it from worsening.
No cure, only a helping hand
Changing your lifestyle can significantly improve your health in more ways than one. To prevent or stop dementia, habits such as smoking, having high cholesterol, having a history of stroke, hypertension, diabetes, or obesity, poor diet, sleep deprivation, having vitamin deficiencies, lack of physical and social activity, and even having a low level of education have an impact with dementia risk if these were stopped, or as with education, improved, especially if you are still years away from becoming a new senior citizen.
Along with proper exercise and diet comes the need for vitamin and mineral supplements as well. Vitamins work in a lot of ways that are beneficial for the body, from maintaining healthy skin and hair, to proper brain function, and strengthening the immune system. On the other hand, minerals help the body too, from bone formation to nerve function. If your vitamin and mineral levels are balanced, it can help enhance your cognitive function that in turn, also helps your brain protect itself from dementia. Studies have shown that there are specific vitamin and mineral supplements that can protect and improve brain function, such as vitamin B1 that helps with nerve transmissions that are usually seen to weaken among dementia patients, vitamin C that helps clean out toxins, vitamin B6 that helps in proper nerve function, vitamin E that improves brain function, zinc that aids in memory and are seen to be lower among older individuals, vitamin B12 and folic acid that are also beneficial as it lowers the levels of amino acids linked to dementia, and Phosphatidylserine, a chemical produced by the body that reportedly helps in information processing, thinking, and memory retention. Minerals such as selenium are also found to benefit the brain by repairing damaged cells and possibly limit the growth of cancer cells, while potassium, calcium, and magnesium also aid in protecting the brain as well. While commercials are convincing and celebrities sway you to try popular supplements in the market, it is still best to head to a doctor and get their expert opinion on the right supplements that your body currently needs depending on your diet.
Don’t forget to remember
While they might say that dementia comes with age and cannot be stopped, there are several good reasons to at least make the effort to try and do so. When your mind is alert and dementia-free, you can continue to connect with others, function on your own, and recover from illness and injury faster. It also gives you a better, ongoing sense of purpose, and not simply watch the years go by.
Tags: Kaycee Reyes