If you or someone you care about is becoming increasingly forgetful, you may be concerned that they have dementia. There are around 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia* and it is a condition that many people worry about as they age.
That’s why we’ve put together our guide on all you need to know about dementia, including the symptoms, the risk factors and how you can reduce your risk.
Dementia is a collective term for the symptoms that come from damage to the brain caused by different conditions, including Alzheimer’s. As with many conditions, it can affect everyone differently but there are a few common dementia symptoms to look out for.
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in mood
- Finding it difficult to carry our out daily tasks, such as the correct change when shopping
- Confusion around time and place
- Struggling to follow a conversation or to find the right word
We are all at potential risk of developing dementia, however there are factors which can increase or lower your risk.
Dementia Risk Factors:
Age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia. The chances of developing it rise significantly as we get older. Over the age of 65 your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia doubles roughly every five years.**
Women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than men. The reasons for this are still unclear.
There is some evidence to suggest that people from certain ethnic groups are at higher risk of developing dementia than others. Those of South Asian background (such as India or Pakistan) are more likely to develop dementia more often than white Europeans. Similarly, those of Afro-Caribbean and African-Caribbean background are more likely to develop dementia more often.
Having a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s disease increases your chances of developing the disease slightly compared to those who have no family history. However, it doesn’t mean dementia is inevitable for you
According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, there is evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of dementia. It can also help prevent cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attacks.
Not exercising enough can increase your risk of many conditions, including dementia.
Doing regular moderate exercise can be one of the best ways to help reduce your risk of dementia. Make sure you follow the recommended guideline of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week such as brisk walking or cycling. You should also aim to do strengthening exercises twice a week such as yoga or gardening. Not sure where to start here’s 10 exercises to fit into your day.
A healthy balanced diet also helps to reduce your risk. A balanced diet is one which is low in saturated fat, does not have too much salt and sugar, and includes plenty of fish, starchy foods, and fruit and vegetables.
If you smoke, it’s strongly advised that you try to give up – it is never too late to quit. Even if you stop smoking later in life it will benefit your overall health and may reduce your risk of dementia. Our Pharmacist can offer advice on how to quit and recommend Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products that can help you.
Train your brain
Keeping your mind stimulated may help reduce your risk of dementia. Regular mental activity such as learning a new language, doing puzzles and playing cards can help delay the symptoms of dementia.
There is some evidence that keeping socially active may also reduce your dementia risk, so try to visit family and friends or try joining a social group or club.