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Recent Study: It’s Possible to Reduce the Risk of Dementia

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The World Health Organization reports that more than 47 million adults worldwide live with dementia. Scientists from the University of Exeter in Great Britain performed an extensive study correlating lifestyle and dementia risk. The group presented its findings at the 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Genetics

Approximately 25 percent of people inherit a copy of the APOE4 gene, which increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s before reaching retirement age. One out of 50 people are born with two copies of the gene, which increases the risk eight times. Having the gene doesn’t necessarily mean a senior will develop Alzheimer’s, but having a genetic predisposition combined with leading an unhealthy lifestyle increases the risk by three times compared to seniors who didn’t inherit the gene. However, older adults who consistently live healthy lives despite having the gene are 32 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment.

Diet

A diet high in sugar tends to fuel inflammation the body. Inflammation interferes with blood circulation, which deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients. Neurons then cannot function at optimal levels. Many seniors develop salt sensitivity that leads to hypertension secondary to fluid retention. The problem also impedes healthy blood flow and puts undue stress on the cardiovascular system. Regularly drinking beverages sweetened with artificial substances has also been shown to increase dementia risk. Although seniors may drink diet beverages, they’re more likely to consume more sweet foods and carbohydrates that lead to unhealthy elevated blood glucose levels, inflammation, and weight gain. 

Seniors with mobility limitations or health conditions may find it challenging to prepare healthy meals on their own. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elderly home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Exercise

Seniors must engage in some type of physical activity for up to 150 minutes each week. Regular activity strengthens the cardiovascular system, which in turn nourishes the brain. The heart doesn’t have to work as hard, and the blood vessels have greater elasticity.

A professional caregiver with training in safe exercise methods for seniors can be a wonderful asset. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of in-home care. Barrie families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

Smoking

Smoking raises heart rate and blood pressure, which may lead to a heart attack or stroke. The effects of the chemical compounds in tobacco products also impede blood flow, which the brain vitally needs. Smoking also causes lung damage that reduces the amount of oxygen transferred to the blood. Low oxygen levels prevent neurons and chemical compounds from functioning the way they were designed to keep the brain healthy. Stopping the habit greatly reduces the risk of dementia.

Medications

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine warned that seniors who regularly take anticholinergic, antidepressant, anti-epilepsy, anti-Parkinson’s, and bladder incontinence medications are at greater risk of developing dementia. British researchers evaluated more than 280,000 adults who took the minimum dose of anticholinergic medication daily for three years. The seniors had a 50 percent higher risk of developing dementia. This classification of medication inhibits the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is necessary for central nervous system function. Healthcare providers must consider the potential hazards of seniors’ long-term use of these medications. 

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Barrie seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance. Contact one of our experienced Care Managers today at 705-503-2273 to learn more about our reliable in-home care services.