Worried About Dementia as You Age? Here Are the Biggest Risk Factors
It is understandable to be worried about mental decline as you age. While there are some risk factors that are beyond your control, there are distinct influences that you can work to negate. It is never too early to begin thinking about how you can modify your behavior to reduce your risk of developing dementia later in life.
Here are a few of the key risk factors associated with dementia.
While a small amount of alcohol is not inherently harmful, even moderate use may raise your risk of dementia in the future. Specifically, the risk of young-onset dementia has been shown to be related to the excessive use of alcohol. Young-onset dementia is defined as the diagnosis of the condition prior to age 65. Consuming over 14 servings of alcohol per week has been demonstrated to increase the risk of this mental condition as you age.
Poor Lifestyle Habits
As with most medical conditions, your lifestyle habits can make a world of difference in your overall health and wellness. Being intentional about engaging in a regular exercise program throughout your life can go a long way in helping to protect the brain as you get older. Aerobic exercise is especially beneficial, although it never hurts to also practice resistance training.
What you eat is another lifestyle factor with profound implications on your dementia risk. Avoiding fatty foods and focusing on balanced diets that incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains is the best approach.
Because high blood pressure is one of the most significant risks associated with dementia, it is important that you take steps to keep yours in check. You can do this through exercise, a healthy diet, and the use of targeted medications. In addition, you need to be mindful of your cholesterol levels.
Another identifying factor of dementia is diabetes. Multiple studies have shown that people with diabetes experience a higher risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) leading to the possibility of dementia. While you cannot help being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is often the result of poor lifestyle choices.
There is a strong connection between smoking and dementia. While not everyone who lights up will get dementia, stopping this bad habit can work wonders to lower your risk of developing this mental impairment. Even if you are much older, there is still evidence that proves the cessation of smoking as being one of the best ways to protect your brain. It is never too late to try to kick the habit of smoking. As a bonus, quitting smoking will also help you to control some of the other health conditions that contribute to dementia.
Traumatic Brain Injury
It is no surprise to learn that hurting your brain can lead to an earlier onset of mental impairment conditions. Although you cannot prevent all accidents, there are steps that you can take to protect your brain. For example, wearing a helmet when biking or other dangerous outdoor activities can cushion the brain should you have an accident.
Poor Hearing in Middle Age
One of the biggest modifiable risk factors for dementia is hearing loss during the middle of your life. People who have experienced hearing impairment during middle age have about twice the risk of experiencing dementia compared to those who do not suffer hearing loss. However, you can reverse this risk by using hearing aids. If you notice that your hearing is starting to lose its strength, it is recommended that you speak with a physician about how hearing aids may help you to hear better while also mitigating the threat of dementia.
Excessive stress is not good for any of your health functions, including your mental capacity. Taking active steps to reduce your level of stress can help you to keep your risk of dementia at normal levels. Good ways to reduce stress include meditation, yoga, exercise, journaling, and taking the time for self-care.
Every little bit of behavior modification helps when it comes to cutting your risk of developing dementia.
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