Dementia is a progressive mental condition which results in the loss of memory, cognition, thinking, language and other brain functions. Science is still not been able to answer why some people get dementia, whereas others have a sharp brain even in their 80’s. Is it genes, age, one’s lifestyle or something else?
However, it has been proven that older people are definitely at a higher risk of dementia. It is more common for a person above 65 to have dementia, while someone younger may not be susceptible to this condition.
Although it may be a fact that older people are at a higher risk of dementia, stating that only older people have it is a myth. Similarly, another such myth is that memory loss is a normal part of aging. This myth and/or assumption has caused many people with dementia to not see their physicians on time and hence, not get a timely treatment for their condition.
So, what exactly are the reasons that put seniors at a greater risk of dementia? Why are younger people considerably safer from acquiring this condition? Nothing has been proven with certainty but some probable reasons are as follows:
Vascular dementia is the second most popular form of dementia after Alzheimer’s in USA. It is most common in older people due to the fact that they develop vascular diseases as they age.
Cognitive impairment due to a stroke is referred to as vascular dementia. Stroke is a brain attack caused by the blood vessels around and inside the brain. It basically occurs when blood circulation in a certain area of the brain is lost and brain cells die in that part. It can also occur due to a blood vessel rupture.
The vascular system of people can sometimes get damaged as they age. Their blood vessels get blocked or leak and hinder blood from reaching the brain cells. Thus, brain cells eventually die due to lack of blood and oxygen. This significantly affects the cognitive abilities of a person.
A stroke may result in paralysis, partial or complete loss of vision, as well as loss of bladder and bowel control. Another such outcome of a stroke is loss of cognition, memory, thinking, judgement and language.
Current research in a Canadian study has revealed that people with diabetes have a 16% higher risk of acquiring dementia. Hence, diabetes is a risk factor for both Alzheimer’s as well as vascular dementia.
Studies point towards abnormalities in insulin targeting the nervous system and affecting it negatively. The Canadian study has put diabetics on a 1.5 times higher risk of Alzheimer’s and 2.5 times of vascular dementia. These risks are so high that Alzheimer’s is actually being termed as “type 3 diabetes” by researchers in this study.
Diabetes is not limited to a certain age group, some people can have it at a very young age too. However, older people usually have higher chances of being diabetic and hence of acquiring dementia as well.
A traumatic brain injury is a result of an impact on the head that damages normal brain function. A brain injury can affect a person’s memory, cognition and thought processes. Traumatic brain injuries are labeled as mild, moderate and severe depending on whether the injury rendered the patient unconscious and for how long. However, even a mild traumatic injury can have huge repercussions on mental health.
The main cause of traumatic brain injury is falls. People 75 years and above are reported to have the highest percentage of fall related brain injury that eventually leads to death. A traumatic brain injury can result in dementia even years after the injury took place. Seniors are more prone to sustain falls due to poor balance, weak vision and failing bones and joints. Studies show that seniors with moderate brain injury in the past have a 2.3 times higher risk of acquiring Alzheimer’s.
Studies have also reported that people over 80 years of age have mixed dementia. Mixed dementia is a combination of Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia. The symptoms and diagnosis of mixed dementia is unclear but there is little doubt in the fact that mixed dementia is found in older people.
A number of other factors also put older adults at a higher risk of dementia such as lack of exercise, poor health and lifestyle, depression, genes, etc. Although no treatment has been discovered for dementia yet; an improved and healthy lifestyle with an ideal balance between fitness and diet has shown to reduce its chances.
Erica Silva is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs.
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