What Is Dementia and How You Can Reduce Your Risk
What is dementia?
Dementia refers to a group of cognitive disorders characterized by impairment of a person’s memory, language skills, motor activity, and executive function.
The most common form of dementia, and the most widely recognized, is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that begins with some memory loss. As it continues into the later stages, the disease causes substantial memory loss as well as a decline in the ability to think and perform daily activities.
Approximately five million Americans are living with the disease today. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors dies with some form of dementia. It is the sixth leading cause of death overall and the fifth leading cause of death for Americans aged sixty-five and older.
Typically, Alzheimer’s affects seniors, or those who are sixty years and older. After an individual reaches the age of sixty-five, his or her risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every five years.
Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease, for not only the individual but also his or her family. In the U.S., more than fifteen million people contributed to the care of loved ones with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that sixty percent of these caregivers rated the emotional stress of caregiving as “high” or “very high.”
Sadly, Alzheimer’s has no cure, and it can affect anyone. Fortunately, however, a number of studies have suggested that there are things that you can do to reduce the risk of developing the disease.
How can you reduce your risk?
According to many authorities, staying active, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, having strong social bonds, and participating in intellectually stimulating activities may lessen your risk. Learn more through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Healthy Brain Initiative.
Minor forgetfulness—such as occasionally misplacing your car keys or forgetting someone’s name—is generally a normal consequence of aging. If you start to notice a marked decline in your memory, however, it might be a sign that you should see a doctor.