Dementia is one of the hardest conditions to watch someone go through.
It affects around 50 million people globally, and that number is only skyrocketing as the years go by.
Some projections indicate that it may triple by 2050.
Why the jump?
It seems that there are 12 major risk factors associated with dementia.
Nine of these have been known for a while:
Lack of early education, mid-life hearing loss, hypertension and obesity, smoking, depression, excessive isolation, physical inactivity, and diabetes at 65 or older.
However, a report presented at the 2020 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference shows that there are three more factors that should be added to the list:
Excessive alcohol intake, air pollution, and head injury.
We all want to age well with minimal diseases, so to prevent dementia, being mindful of these 12 factors is crucial.
Although there are some factors on that list that are outside anyone’s control, there are more things we can do than you might think.
In fact, one of the presenters and medical professional, Dr. Lon Schneider, lays out at an action plan for individuals and policymakers with the goal of reducing dementia cases:
• Aim to maintain systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or less from the age of 40.
• Encourage use of hearing aids for hearing loss and reduce hearing loss by protecting ears from high noise levels.
• Reduce exposure to air pollution and second-hand tobacco smoke.
• Prevent head injury (particularly by targeting high-risk occupations).
• Limit alcohol intake to no more than 21 units per week (one unit of alcohol equals 10 ml or 8 g pure alcohol).
• Stop smoking and support others to stop smoking.
• Provide all children with primary and secondary education.
• Lead an active life into mid-life and possibly later life.
• Reduce obesity and the linked condition of diabetes.
Even though dementia cases at a global level are rising, there’s evidence that countries such as England and France that adopt these positive lifestyle changes are seeing a significant drop in dementia.