Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is a degenerative neurological disorder affecting and estimated 47 million people globally. By 2050, that number may rise to 131 million. There are various causes, including; Alzheimer’s Disease, Vascular Dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, Mixed Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease etc. It’s on course to become the biggest killer of the 21st century. Right now, there is no way to reverse or cure the onset of dementia. However, there is a promising study just published by The Lancet. It declares that over one third of dementia cases may be preventable. It also states that there are nine risk factors that can increase the chances of developing it.
Mid-life hearing loss is the biggest risk factor. According to the study, it contributes 9 percent of the risk. The following list orders the factors by their contribution to the risk.
- Failing to complete high school – 8%.
- Smoking – 5%
- Depression – 4%
- Physical inactivity – 3%
- Social Isolation – 2%
- High Blood Pressure – 2%.
- Obesity – 1%
- Type 2 diabetes – 1%.
All together, these factors add up to 35 percent. The other 65 percent, for now, remains unmodifiable.
What these risk factors mean, is that there are changes we can all make in our lives to not only improve our health, but to prevent the onset of dementia. We typically see dementia at advanced ages, but the changes in our brains that lead to its development start much earlier. By making some simple life changes, such as being more active, eating healthier, and maintaining careful watch over our mental health, we can make our golden years brighter.