You probably have had of this condition before. And what comes to your mind most likely whenever you hear of “dementia” is old age. Dementia is reduction in the mental capacity of an individual. It is often so severe that it affects daily functions of an individual. It is sometimes called “senility”, but it is inappropriate to refer to it as “senility”. This is because senility makes it look like a normal part of ageing experience, i.e. it is disease that occurs because a person is becoming older(usually greater than 65 years). Many diseases can cause development of dementia. Some of them are Alzheimer disease, vascular dementia which occurs after a stroke, dementia with Lewis Bodies(DLB), mixed dementia, Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, Huntington’s disease, Wernicke-korsakoff’s syndrome. Out of all the causes listed for causing dementia, the most common cause is Alzheimer’s disease. Few out of all the people affected by dementia are less than 65 years of age. In the year 2000, it was suggested that 18 million to 25 million people throughout the world have dementia. By the year 2020, the number of people worldwide that would have been affected by dementia. In the united kingdom, it has been suggested that more than one million of the total population will have dementia by the year 2025, and more than 2 million of the total population will be having dementia by 2051. According to the New York Times, dated November 21, 2016 dementia statistics among the Americans decreased between the statistical value obtained in year 2000 and the ones obtained in the year 2012.
What is the risk factor for Dementia?
Risk factors for dementia depend on the risk factors for various diseases that cause dementia. They include age, family history, genetics, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, head injury, sleep problems, midlife obesity, smoking cigarette, heavy consumption of alcohol.
- Age: This stands as one of the most significant causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Once a person reaches the age of 65, his or her chance of having Alzheimer’s doubles every five years. When a person becomes 85 years old, his or her risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease becomes fifty percent. It can be said to be a non-modifiable risk factor of Alzheimer disease and hence of dementia because as we cannot turn back the hand of the clock, so also age goes up but never comes down.
- Family history: If your parent(s) or any of your siblings have had dementia before, you also stand the risk of having dementia. Your risk is more if more than one of your family members have or has had dementia. Family history is a non-modifiable risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Genetics: Genetics: This deals with your gene(s). When you have the gene for a disease, you may either be a carrier for the disease or you may express the diseases. The gene you have may be a risk gene or a deterministic gene. Having a risk gene makes you liable for developing a disease while having a deterministic gene makes you surety for such a disease, hence it means you will have the disease. APOE-e4 is the gene that predisposes a person to have Alzheimer’s disease the most. If you are a carrier of the gene and you marry somebody that is a carrier of the gene too, it means your children stand the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This is how it relates to you and your parents also. If both of them are carriers of the gene for Alzheimer’s disease, you stand the chance of having Alzheimer’s disease. Your chance of having the disease is higher if both of your parents are carriers of the gene. Genetics as a factor cannot be modified just like age is non-modifiable too.
- Cardiovascular disease: a Cardiovascular disease like atherosclerosis can put a person at the risk of developing dementia. This is because blood flow to the brain can become reduced when there is cardiovascular disease. When this happens, the cognitive ability of the mind can become impaired by decreasing the function of the brain.
- Diabetes: Poor sugar control causes decreased mental capacity. This is why people of the middle age group who have diabetes are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than their non-diabetic counterparts. Albeit it note that hypoglycemia can predispose a person to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Over-treatment of diabetes can lead to hypoglycemia, and this is why care should be taken in treating diabetes.
- Depression: Depressed people usually try to avoid social contact. This can bring about a harmful effect on the brain’s health. A study was conducted, and it was shown that people suffering from depression are two-timed at risk of developing dementia. A worse scenario is when a person suffering from depression is also having diabetes. It makes the risk of developing Alzheimer disease to increase to a higher
Other factors that have been listed above including excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking cigarettes, etc, also have their ways in which they can make you be at risk of having dementia.
What is the main cause of Dementia
The main disease that can put you at risk of having dementia is Alzheimer disease. Most of the people having dementia today have Alzheimer’s disease as the underlying cause.
How to lower your chances of getting Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
If you want your risk for developing dementia to reduce, you need first to know that there are some risk factors that you cannot do anything to prevent them. They are your family history, genetics, and age. Albeit you can lower other risk factors for dementia that has been listed above. Also, you can lower your risk of developing some of the diseases that can cause dementia, e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, etc. You can reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer disease by stopping smoking, keeping your alcohol consumption to a minimal level.Dementia is a disease that has many underlying causes. If you have it, your cognitive functions will become impaired.
- Maj M, Sartorius N. Dementia. Chichester: Wiley; 2000.
- Dementia – Signs, Symptoms, Causes, Tests, Treatment, Care | alz.org. Along. 2018. Available at: http://www.alz.org/what-is-dementia.asp. Accessed June 9, 2018.
3. Danette C. Taylor F. Dementia Types: Symptoms, Stages, and Early Signs. MedicineNet. 2018. Available at: https://www.medicinenet.com/dementia/article.htm. Accessed June 9, 2018