It is no longer a surprising fact that old age is definitely one of the strongest influences on whether or not you’re going to develop Alzheimer’s but once you get to know about the long list of endless risk factors which can induce the development of this disease in your brain, you will end up raising your eyebrows! Dementia is a deadly brain disease which has been deemed to be the second biggest cause of death in the UK, US and in Australia. It is a deadly brain degenerative disease which progresses with time and the symptoms get worse with age.
Current ongoing studies have also tied a heightened risk of developing dementia if you drink a diet soda everyday, breathe in polluted air, go through anesthesia for some surgery and if you’re a woman. Women are more at risk of developing dementia as they live longer than men and age is the biggest risk factor for getting this disturbing disease. So, if you’re someone who is caring for parent with dementia at home, the concerns of this post will prove to be helpful for you.
Risk factors are just factors – They are not ‘FATE’
After going through the introduction of this post, do you find yourself throwing your arms up in defeat? If yes, you need to remember that these risk factors are nothing more than ‘factors’ – they are not your fate. An eminent professor has recently said that he has seen several people who have done everything that they could to prevent developing dementia but came down with the disease, and many others who did everything wrong and never came down with the disease. Hence, you have to understand that this is not something that is totally under your control.
Even more, there are several experts who note that there are not many studies which have been done with a wide scope. There are very few findings which might be of interest to a researcher of Alzheimer’s. The pieces of information show that there are environmental and genetic factors which lead to such changes in the brain but these factors are not going to influence the behavior of a person.
With that said, it is vital to understand a small set of significant, proven and actionable risk factors which throw you down on the road to dementia. Once you’re in there, you might not be able to reverse your clock. Nevertheless, there are indeed lots that you can do in order to safeguard the health of your brain. We had asked the health experts to draw a picture of the risk factors which surefire lead to the development of the disease later on. Scroll down to know what you should focus on.
Dementia risk factors – Steer clear from them to reduce the likelihood of the disease
The total number of people all over the world who are suffering from dementia is staggeringly high and it is growing with time. This is a rather mind-robbing disease which hasn’t got any cure but there are several researches which have deduced few of the risk factors which are lowering the chances of developing it. One of the biggest risk factor is old age and that is unavoidable but there are scientists who have pin-pointed all the lifestyle choices that you can change to lower the odds. Here are few that you should take note of.
Age is certainly one of the well-known risk factors which are inevitably linked with dementia. Majority of the people, who develop this disease, do so at the age of 65 years. Alzheimer’s and dementia are more common than what you may think. Did you know that Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the US and it is also one of the most common forms of dementia? 1 person in Australia develops this disease every 60 seconds. Though the main reason behind developing this disease is still not clear, the disease is related with degeneration of brain cells. The natural process of aging leads to alterations in the blood vessels which supply oxygen and glucose to the brain. This ability of the human brain decreases with age and hence it leads to poor cognitive health.
As mentioned earlier, no one knows what exactly leads to dementia and Alzheimer’s but the researchers are definitely sure about the fact that genetics is involved. Genes play the role of building blocks which monitor each and every component inside the human body. Genes are passed on to you by your parents and they come in the form of DNA called chromosomes. Healthy people are born with 46 chromosomes which are differentiated in 23 pairs. The chromosomes 1, 14, 19 and 21 might lead to Alzheimer’s according to the researchers. The APOE gene develops Alzheimer’s at the later age but this is not true for all and sundry. There are even many seniors with this gene who are not suffering from dementia.
If there is anything that is blocking the road of blood flow to several parts of your body like a heart issue or a stroke, this can boost chances of a dementia. Your brain will always have a crucial need of blood flow that is uninterrupted and hence it is necessary that your blood vessels remain clear and free. If you’re a smoker, you should quit smoking and work hard in order to get risky conditions under control. High cholesterol, high blood sugar, obesity and high blood pressure are few such risky factors that should be kept under control. It is seen that more than 70-80% of the senior adults suffer from high blood pressure and this is a rather silent factor which leads to dementia.
There are even few studies which prove that if you get a high level of education, you can steer clear from dementia. It is due to the mental stimulation that an individual gets with extra years of schooling and hence this is linked with lower risk of dementia. But if you think that you have had your dose of stimulating activities and years of education in the past and hence you’re at a low risk of dementia, you’re wrong. The mentally stimulating and engaging activities need to happen right now. It is a rather long pursuit to keep your brain active and this is even more active when you gradually get older. Solve puzzles and brain games whenever you get time with your grandchildren as this will not only sharpen your brain but also keep dementia at bay.
Types of dementia care options for the needy and aged
Irrespective of the stage of dementia the patient is in or the kind of care which is required, there are the best care providers who help families deal with the changing needs of their loved ones. Several types of dementia care services are available but it is up to you which one you choose for your family member. Read on to know on the services offered.
Option for the initial stage – Home care
When the person who is suffering from dementia stays at home, he will benefit by the familiar sounds and sight but at the same time you also have to bring about few dementia-friendly changes to your home so as to make easily navigable and safe. As per recommendations from the Alzheimer’s Association, you should look at your home from the eyes of the dementia patient. Here are few safety tips that you can bring about in your home during the early stage:
- Let go of items which can cause injury
- Lock all those dangerous areas like workrooms, stairwells and other storage areas
- Staircases should be well-lit
- Smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors should work properly
- Temperature of water should be set at 120 degrees to keep scalding at bay
- Lock all medicines in a cabinet or inside a drawer
In home care, the care providers help with different tasks like grooming, bathing, applying hearing aids, changing batteries of hearing aid, housecleaning, preparing meals, transporting the person from one room to another.
Formal at-home care offers relief to caregivers
If you are playing the role of a caregiver to someone with dementia, this means huge challenge and stress for the person. Hence, if there is relief on a daily basis, this is a respite for the caregiver. Caregivers can turn to friends, family and neighbors for a break but if they bring in formal home care at home, the services are as follows:
- Adult day care centers: Those with an early or moderate stage dementia can benefit from adult day care centers. Here too, there is assistance with regular activities like grooming, bathing, eating and mobility. The caregivers can continue with their work and they get a break from their caregiver activities. This is also a cost-effective form of care which is offered by people who specialize in dementia. Art or music therapy is also used by the service providers.
- Home health services: Depending on the agency that you choose, the in-home care services will offer skilled and professional nursing care, home health aides and different companion services which can help with all sorts of household chores. With such services too, the caregivers will get time to enjoy social gatherings, relax, run through personal tasks and enjoy their life.
Residential care during the later stages of dementia
With the progress of Alzheimer’s, care requirements will keep increasing. So, here are few residential care options during the later stages.
- Assisted Living: For people who need assistance with daily tasks like preparing meals, dressing, assisted living is the best form of support. In such communities, residents will have their own suite or apartment. There will be a 24-hour staff who will offer assisted living services which might include housekeeping, recreational activities, transportation and laundry.
- Special Care Units (SCUs): Special care units within the residential facilities are created for people who suffer from memory issues. These units generally group with the residents with dementia on their own floor or along with the wing of a larger care residence. The staff of this unit should have specialized training in care requirements for people who are their most advanced stage of dementia. They should cater to the needs of people with memory issues and other safety measures like security exits so that the person can’t run away and get lost.
- Nursing home: When your family member reaches a point where he needs skilled nursing home care facilities, you may have to put him into a nursing home. The nursing home facilities offer round-the-clock supervision of the patient and medical care. The will work in accordance with the patient and help him with care planning, medical concerns, nutrition issues and other spiritual requirements.
The stage of the disease that your loved one is in will determine the specific requirements of care that you choose. You can’t forget that each setting is different and hence you need to keep up the communication level with your family member at the early stages of the disease so that you may get input from the other members and you’re able to design a plan. Location, finances and there are other issues which should be a part of the conversation that you have with your loved one. In case you’re someone who is searching for memory care, you can browse through the communities and ask for recommendations from friends and family who can best meet your needs.
Therefore, no matter which stage of dementia your family member or parent is going through, there is always a requirement of assisted care or in-home care. Take into account the above listed dementia care services so that you can appoint the best one for your parent and give her a normal and comfortable life. Meanwhile, don’t forget to take care of your health as a caregiver has to remain strong throughout the journey.