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Dementia Prevention?

Is there a difference between dementia and Alzheimer's, and can dementia be prevented?

A common question I get asked numerous times: How can I prevent getting dementia?  There are actually two issues pertaining to this question that gets confused: the words dementia and prevention.  Most of the time, people refer dementia to be the same as Alzheimer's disease.  The term dementia is an umbrella term and it can be reversible or progressive. There are around a hundred types of dementias so it is crucial to see a physician who is knowledgeable in dementia diagnosis.  About ten percent of dementias can be reversed with thirty percent being irreversible (i.e. vascular, frontotemporal lobe, lewy body, etc), and at sixty percent is Alzheimer’s disease, which is a progressive disease.  Obtaining a proper diagnosis is essential, and of course, you play an active role in your life as to how you want to thrive.  The term prevention varies.  Depression and stress can play tricks on the memory and there are ways to prevent allowing stress to control your life.  Currently, there is no way to prevent getting Alzheimer’s disease; however, there are things you can do to help reduce the risk.  Numerous research studies indicate the best, most effective strategies to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and engage in overall brain health is to:

  • Exercise – at least 20 to 30 minutes a day at moderate intensity
  • Eat Healthy – emphasize dark skinned fruits and vegetables, vitamin B12 and foods rich in Omega 3, in addition to olive, canola, flaxseed and peanut oils
  • Challenge Yourself – set aside time to challenge your focus and thinking i.e. puzzles, word, trivia and memorization games
  • Get Plenty of Z’s - restful sleep helps to process, store, and recall information, and if you’re able to get a thirty minute “power nap” during the day, all the better
  • Reduce Stress – studies show lifelong stress can double or quadruple chances of Alzheimer’s. Breathe. Limit the multi-tasking chores, decrease overwhelming feelings, and allow yourself time to take care of you.  If you need to talk to someone, find a healthy outlet be it a good friend or a professional
  • Kick Unhealthy Habits – smoking and heavy drinking are two well known risk factors that lead to many diseases, including alcohol dementia (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome)

If you sense there are some signs of memory loss in you or a loved one, talk to your doctor.  There can be some confusion with dementia, Alzheimer's, and prevention- If you have a specific question or concern, contact me: aduncan@seniorhelpers.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Daniel C. Potts November 30, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Angel is spot-on with this post about dementia prevention. We certainly hope for a cure for Alzheimer's disease, that is true. But the causes of dementia are myriad, and proper diagnosis and early treatment are critical. The steps outlined above are good ideas even for those who have been diagnosed with dementia. But remember, with dementia disease on the rise, we should all do our best to follow Angel's good advise and minimize our risks.

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