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Ways to Delay Dementia

Updated on March 30, 2013
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Facts about Dementia

Dementia is a disease that occurs at old age and results in memory and behavior deterioration and as a result the inability to perform day-to-day activities and increasing dependency on family members and nursing staff.

Before the 20th century, dementia occurred much less frequently than nowadays due to the fact that it is a disease most prevalent at an age over 80 and in pre-industrial times, such long lifespans were uncommon. Nowadays, with the trend of people living longer due to the rapid progress in medicine, dementia is a growing phenomenon from which 35.6 million people worldwide suffer and with 7.7 million new cases every year.

Dementia is influencing our society in a significant way and not only affected patients but also their family members are often obliged to change their lifestyle and daily routines. It also puts enormous stress on the affected people and their close ones.

There is currently no treatment for dementia or Alzheimer’ disease, the most common form of dementia, but scientists claim that a healthy physical and mental lifestyle can delay dementia by several years.

Contributing Factors

Genetics can certainly determine if you are subject to the risk of suffering from dementia. This means that if your grandparents or other people in your family suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, you might be more at a risk than others. But other risk factors for cognitive deterioration include high blood pressure, a high proportion of lipids or high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and smoking. Hypertension and smoking particularly inhibits the blood supply to the brain which increases the risk.

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How to Delay Dementia

Brain workouts

Brain workouts are considered to be one of the most effective ways to delay dementia or slow down its development by inhibiting the accumulation and misfolding of certain proteins in the brain, which is the hallmark of Alzheimer, supporting new nerve cell growth and promoting the communication between nerve cells. The idea is to force the brain to adapt to new stimuli. Besides puzzles and games, acquiring a new skill such as learning to play an instrument or studying a second language has shown to delay dementia. According to studies, bilingual people were shown to develop dementia three to four years later than monolingual people.

A Healthy lifestyle

A healthy diet with a low proportion of fatty foods and lots of vegetables as well as regular physical exercise are not only considered to be good to prevent coronary diseases but also Alzheimer’s disease. Adults should do at least 3 hours of moderate physical activity on a weekly basis. This can be divided into 30-minute walks on 6 days a week. Ideally it should be done with a partner as it was shown that a healthy social life helps to keep the mind fit as well. On the contrary, isolation was shown to have devastating effects.

Keeping a structure

It was found that big life changes increase the risk of deteriorated cognitive functions. Retirement may sound like a relaxing and fun time of life but doctors suggest to stick to a regular schedule that includes waking up at around the same time, eating regular meals and doing activities at the same time every day. It can be helpful to incorporate hobbies into one's schedule in order to facilitate keeping up the daily rhythm.

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    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      I agree that doing some math exercises, learning a language, playing a musical instrument can keep the brain in great shape.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Excellent hub! I agree about how vital it is to exercise one's brain. I make sure and do it daily. Even walking or driving a different route would help.

    • Jennifer Madison profile image
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      Jennifer Madison 4 years ago from Lohmar

      We are never too old to start learning something new and it can only benefit us if we do it moderately.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 4 years ago from Finland

      Good information. I really think these things are helping, but sometimes dementia can be inherited, too. Voting up and sharing this hub!

    • Jennifer Madison profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Madison 4 years ago from Lohmar

      Absolutely, genetics also play a role. That is why if one has dementia cases in the family, that person should place even more importance on making use of the methods to delay dementia.

    • James-wolve profile image

      Tijani Achamlal 4 years ago from Morocco

      Very interesting and informative.Thanks for this hub.I agree bilingual people and those who stick to a regular schedule are less affected by dementia .Thanks.

    • athulnair profile image

      athulnair 4 years ago from India

      Will factors such as loneliness during the age of 70 plus will cause this condition?

    • Jennifer Madison profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Madison 4 years ago from Lohmar

      This is one of the factors that increases the risk. A lot of research still needs to be done on this subject however. Loneliness alone will not cause this condition. It is a combination of factors such as old age, unhealthy eating habits, no physical exercise, genetics, no structured day, abrupt life changes etc. For sure some factors such as genetics and old age are more influential than other factors. But by paying attention to the factors we are able to influence, we can be sure to delay dementia for a couple of years or at least decelerate its development. My mother-in-law has been suffering from Alzheimer for about 4 years and she is pretty stable. She is taking medication but in addition, she has a structured day without many changes to the routine, she does Sudokus and other puzzles and she is always surrounded by her daughter and her husband as well as nurses and the rest of the family on holidays and some weekends. She is doing fine and I haven't seen her get worse in the last 2 years.

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