Did you know someone in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds? There were an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2015 and the number is expected to almost double every 20 years. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia and there are 5 million people in the U.S. alone living with Alzheimer's.
- Stage 1: No impairment – ...
- Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline – ...
- Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline – ...
- Stage 4: Moderate cognitive decline – ...
- Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline – ...
- Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline – ...
- Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline – ...
Common Dementia Symptoms
- Trouble holding urine (incontinence)
- Increase in memory loss and forgetfulness.
- Inability to use or find the right words and phrases.
- Difficulty doing challenging mental math exercises, such as counting backwards from 100 by 7.
- Increase in social withdrawal.
According to a 2017 report published in the Lancet, approximately 35 percent of dementia cases could actually be delayed or even prevented if attention is given to nine modifiable risk factors: early education, midlife hypertension, obesity, hearing loss, depression in later life, diabetes, physical inactivity, smoking and social isolation.
5 Surprising Ways to Lower Dementia Risk
Besides the important modifiable ways listed above, there are some surprising ways that can also reduce your risk.
1. Avoid Medications Linked to Dementia
There are many drugs linked to dementia including allergy and sleep medications like Benadryl, Dramamine, Advil PM and more. These items are linked because they have anticholinergic effects. An anticholinergic agent is a substance that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and the peripheral nervous system. University of Washington scientists found the chronic use of certain anticholinergic sleep aids and hay fever meds increased a person’s risk of dementia. The study only found the link for people taking these drugs for three or more years.
2. Sleep On Your Side
In 2015, researchers found that sleeping on your side could improve one of the brain’s waste-clearing processes, lowering the risk for neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. A complex system in the brain clears wastes and harmful chemicals and this system worked best when people slept on their sides, compared to belly or back sleepers.
3. Watch Out For High Copper Levels
A 2013 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that copper can trigger the onset of Alzheimer’s and fuel the disease. In fact, the study found that copper in drinking water at levels one-tenth of the water quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency caused a toxic accumulation of the pro-Alzheimer’s protein amyloid beta.
4. Live With A Purpose
Research shows a connection between a person's sense of purpose and dementia risk. One study showed those who reported the highest scores on the life purpose test were almost 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer's compared to people with the lowest scores. Living a life full of purpose, as defined by this study, involved things like having a sense of direction and purpose in life and feeling good when thinking about past accomplishments and hope for things to accomplish in the future.
5. Focus on Oral Health
When you take good care of your teeth and gums, you also help protect your brain. A large study investigating the dental habits of about 5,500 older people over an 18-year period found a strong link between people with poor oral hygiene and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Bacteria that originates in the gums can find its way to the brain, causing inflammation.