As Dementia Becomes a Public Health Concern, Is It Possible To Ward Off the Disease?
By Space Coast Daily // May 10, 2019
On June 1, 2018, there were just few nations which seriously formulated national dementia plans in spite of nearly 50 million people all over the world surviving with this neurodegenerative disorder.
WHO member states are being requested to build extensive multisectoral responses to public policies to enhance the quality of your life, improve equitable access to different kinds of services and reduce the stigma that is associated with people who are suffering from dementia and the carers who are involved in regular dementia patient care.
Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death and there are around 50 million people living with dementia. A major part of the care is provided by family carers and the cost of dementia is around $818 billion.
Dementia is actually an umbrella term which is used for different diseases that have an impact on your cognitive abilities, your memory and other behaviors.
Severe stage of dementia can also interfere with a person’s ability to continue with their daily activities. Though age is considered as the leading risk factor for dementia, it isn’t a usual part and parcel of aging.
10 Vital facts on dementia that the carers and patients should be aware of
Dementia is of progressive and chronic nature and it is generally caused by different kinds of brain disorders which affect thinking, memory, behavior and ability to perform daily activities.
The total number of people who might be suffering from dementia by the time its 2030 is projected to be 75 million and the total number of dementia cases will also triple by 2050. For the families and caregivers of dementia sufferers, dementia can get overwhelming. There is an immense dearth of awareness in most nations and this leads to unnecessary stigmatization.
Here are a few vital facts that you should stay aware of:
Fact #1: Not all aging people will get dementia
Though it is true that dementia usually affects most of the senior people, yet that doesn’t mean that dementia is a normal part of aging. Dementia is a chronic syndrome which is progressive and chronic in nature and this is caused by different sorts of brain illnesses which affect behavior, memory and the ability to carry on regular activities.
Fact #2: There’s a new dementia case that’s diagnosed every 3 seconds
Dementia has become so common all over the world that there are new dementia cases that are diagnosed every 3 seconds which makes it 10 million cases every year globally. The total number of people surviving with dementia is expected to rise to 85 million by 2030 and 155 million by 2050.
Fact #3: More than 50 million people survive with dementia
The total number of people with dementia in 2015 is projected to be 48 million and among them 64% live in countries which are low and middle-income. This is anticipated to rise to 72% by 2050.
Fact #4: Dementia has a huge impact on the economy
The hefty cost of the disease will set a huge challenge for the healthcare systems to deal with the future boost in the total number of cases. The costs of dementia are projected at $818 billion per year and are all set to increase way faster than the current number of cases.
Fact #5: Caregivers go through excessive stress
While providing home care support is a good option, most caregivers are family members and they go through immense stress while taking care of a person with dementia. Stresses come in the form of emotional, physical and economic pressures and the carers often require support in the form of financial, social, health and legal systems.
Fact #6: Getting diagnosed early enhances the quality of life
As long as the main goals for dementia care are concerned, it should be diagnosed early if you want to ward off the pangs of the disease at its later stage. When you opt for dementia care, you can optimise cognition, physical health, well-being and activity. It is possible to treat and detect psychological and behavioral symptoms and you can also provide long-term support to care givers.
Fact #7: Families with dementia suffers are discriminated against
Individuals who are suffering from dementia are often denied receiving their basic rights and freedoms which are otherwise available to normal people without the disease. The chemical and physical restraints which are often used in acute care facilities and age-care are some such examples.
Fact #8: There are more innovation and research
There’s more research to develop on dementia. Though it has already been said that there are no such proper care for the disease, yet scientists and researchers should try hard to develop some kind of treatment which could at least stop the disease from progressing to its severe stage.
Fact #9: Advocacy and awareness are required
If there has to be reduced discrimination among people who are suffering from dementia, there has to be increased awareness of the disease and understanding how this disease occurs among people. Unless there is reduced discrimination, this can never boost the lives of people with dementia.
Fact #10: Dementia is a priority of public health
In order to address this type of health priority, there are several actions that need to be taken:
- Boost dementia awareness and enhance dementia-friendly society
- Make dementia social priority of public health
- Invest in social and health systems to enhance diagnosis, care and treatment for dementia sufferers
- Support the families of dementia survivors
- Improve social care and health care monitoring of dementia
- Boost research on dementia and enhance innovation
Is it possible to ward off dementia?
Heredity can have an influence on whether or not a person develops this disease. If you have a parent or a sibling who has dementia, you will have an increased risk factor of developing the same disease.
Researchers are studying actively about these variables all over the world and they are having the goal of learning how to ward off dementia and slow down the progression of the disease.
While it is true that there is no definite way in which you can prevent all kinds of dementia, researchers are still investigating on the reasons that lead to this disease. There are also evidence which prove that adopting a healthy lifestyle can assist you n reducing the risk of developing this disease.
Here are a few things that you can take into account:
Different risk factors for developing dementia
What is a risk factor? It is something that boosts your likelihood of developing this disorder.
Here are few of the biggest risk factors:
- AGE: The older you get, the more you will become susceptible to dementia. But that doesn’t mean that dementia happens to everyone who ages.
- GENES: It is not just genes that cause dementia. But there are several genetic factors which are linked with few of the most unusual forms of dementia.
- LOW EDUCATION LEVEL: When there is not enough awareness about the disease, people get more vulnerable to this disease.
Apart from the above-listed risk factors, there are few other factors like:
- Depression that is never treated
- Hearing impairment
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Social isolation
Researchers recently concluded that it is only by modifying the above-listed risk factors that you can reduce dementia by at least 35%.
Dementia and diet
Risk: If you consume a diet which is rich in saturated fat, sugar and salt and also low in fibre, this can boost your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, being obese and overweight.
What to do: You should take a balanced and healthy diet which is low in saturated fat, sugar and high in fiber in order to ward off the risk of dementia.
Dementia and weight
Risk: Being obese and overweight is generally bad for your health. Specifically, it increases your blood pressure, type 2 diabetes which all boosts the risk of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
What to do: You have to use a healthy weight calculator to check whether or not your weight is in a healthy range. In case you think you’re obese or overweight, you should work hard to lose at least 5-10% of the extra weight in order to diminish the risk of developing dementia in the long run.
Dementia and alcohol
Risk: If you consume too much alcohol, this can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, some forms of cancer, damage to the brain and to the nervous system.
What to do: Meet your doctor and ask him for a strict recommendation on the units of alcohol that you can take in a week. Both for men and women, you shouldn’t take more than 14 units of alcohol. In case you’re someone who regularly drinks 14 units in a week, try and spread that to more than 3 days and also try to have drink-free days every week.
Dementia and workout
Risk: If you lack doing physical activity, this can increase the risk of heart issues, you can become obese or overweight and you can also suffer from diabetes which is again a risk factor for dementia. Elder people who don’t exercise are more vulnerable to problems like cognitive disabilities and memory issues.
What to do: If you’re mindful enough to follow the guidelines given by fitness experts who ask people to engage themselves in 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercises every week like dancing, cycling or walking.
Make sure you also practice strengthening exercises like yoga at least twice in a week. One more thing that you need to take into account is that you should sit less and move more often. Take the stairs instead of taking the escalators and make phone calls while standing up.
Dementia and smoking tobacco
Risk: When you smoke, your arteries narrow down and this can raise your blood pressure. Smoking also boosts the risk of cardiovascular diseases and other types of cancers like lung cancer, mouth cancer and many other types.
What to do: If you’re an active smoker, try your best to quit as soon as possible. If you seek help from NHS, you will get lots of assistance. You may even try adopting the habit of vaping in order to ditch smoking earlier.
Dementia and depression
Risk: There is indeed a complex relationship between depression and dementia. In case you have untreated depression, this boosts your risk of suffering from dementia where depression might occur as a part of all symptoms of dementia. Irrespective of your anxiety attacks or low mood or depression, you can find your social life getting impacted to such an extent that you fail to stay socially active.
What to do: In case you’re extremely concerned that you or a friend or a relative might be depressed, speak to a general physician. If they refer you to talk therapies or counseling sessions, visit them too. Try out more tips to cope with depression.
Should you opt for a routine NHS health check up?
If you don’t know what NHS health check-up, it is a free check-up done for checking your overall health. People between 40 and 75 years of age who have never been detected with any heart disease or kidney problem or diabetes are offered this kind of check-up and this is given every 5 years. Once you go through this check-up, you can spot the early signs of many diseases which could, later on, lead to dementia.
Such diseases include:
- Heart issues
- Kidney problem
There are few cases where you will be told about the symptoms and signs of dementia that you should be aware of. They will also give you advice on the ways in which you can reduce the risk.
So, now that you’re well-versed with the ways in which you can ward off dementia, don’t you think you should not waste further time and start following them? Be careful about your health and prevent yourself from developing dementia.