Understanding Dementia

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dementia

As you grow old, your mental abilities are affected. At times, you might not be able to figure out the right words for a conversation and at others, you might not remember where you kept the keys. Forgetting small things like these is a natural and a very normal part of growing old, but not always. In certain circumstances, habitual forgetting is an indication of a mental health problem such as dementia.

Your Brain Ages as You Grow Older

The volume of your brain decreases as you grow older. As the size of brain becomes smaller, some nerve cells also shrink or become disconnected with other cells, and the blood flow slows down. Since the structure of your brain changes, your memory may not function the same way when you grow older.

As far as your memory lapses are seldom, there is nothing to worry about. However, if your memory loss becomes significant, it is not normal and you should seek advice from your doctor.

Types of Dementia

Dementia is a mental disease which affects normal functioning of your brain. As a result, your memory, perception, reasoning, judgment and language skills get impaired. There are many causes of dementia, the most common of which are outlined below.

Alzheimer’s Disease: The most common cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease damages and kills the nerve cells of your brain. As a result, your cognitive ability starts to decline.

Vascular Dementia: The second most common cause, this is the condition in which cardiovascular or cerebrovascular problems such as strokes, damage the nerve fibers.

Lewy Body Dementia: Lewy body is a condition in which some of your brain cells die and leave behind protein filled nerve cells. Known as Lewy bodies, these protein nerve cells are regarded as abnormal.

Frontotemporal Dementia: If the nerve cells lying in the frontal and temporal lobes of your brain degenerate, your brain activity is affected, leading to eventual death of your brain cells. This condition is known as Frontotemporal dementia.

Other Types of Dementia: In some cases, other diseases such as HIV infection, Huntington’s disease, and even trauma to the head, can also cause the symptoms of dementia to appear.

Risk Factors

There are certain factors which increase the chances of dementia such as:

  • Age
  • Smoking and drinking
  • High levels of cholesterol or homocysteine
  • Diabetes
  • Medical history of dementia in the family

Prevention

Act on the following suggestions and your mind will stay sharp as your grow older.

Keep your blood pressure under control: As already mentioned, high levels of cholesterol increase the chances of dementia. Why? Because you are exposed to a risk of strokes and cardiovascular diseases, which have been associated with dementia.

Avoid smoking and drinking: Smoking and drinking are two other factors which can lead to dementia. Completely quit smoking and only have a light beer once in a whole.

Eat healthy and exercise regularly: When your brain ages, your blood flow in the brain slows down. If you maintain physical fitness and work out regularly, you can maintain appropriate blood flow levels.

Engage in challenging exercises or social interactions: Keep your brain engaged in healthy activities even as your grow old. Hang out with friends and acquaintances, learn new skills, play challenging games, and indulge in any other activity that causes you to think and requires your brain cells to work. According to research, the more social and intellectual you are, the lesser is the risk of dementia.

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