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These 7 Things Increase Your Risk of Dementia… and You Can’t Control Them

Dementia is an umbrella term that covers more symptoms that affect memory, thinking, and social abilities. It is important for all of us to know about the factors that increase the risk of dementia since these symptoms can interfere with our daily lives.

It is better to know if you are more likely to develop dementia so you can be prepared and do all the preventive work possible. There are many risk factors for dementia, and most of them you can’t even control.

Genetics, lifestyle, and environment – all of these can contribute to the development of dementia. Remember that risk factors on their own are not the cause of the disease. They just represent that you have an increased likelihood of developing dementia, but it is never a certainty.

Stay with us and find out about the most well-known factors that can increase the risk of dementia. Do you have any of them?

risk of dementia
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1. Age

This is definitely the factor with the highest risk of dementia. This means that the older you get, the higher your risk of developing dementia. And as you can expect, you can’t control how fast you get older. You have no say in this.

If we were to look at the statistics, we could see that for those between 65 and 69, there are 2 out of 100 people who already have dementia. And as you get older, the risk goes up, almost doubling every five years. Dementia affects around 33 out of every 100 adults over the age of 90.

If you are wondering why aging is one of the factors that represent a higher risk of dementia, the answer is pretty simple and has to do with the way dementia-related conditions evolve. Dementia is known to take a lot of time to develop because it is caused by vascular disease or Alzheimer’s disease.

These diseases take a long time to damage the brain so much that they can trigger dementia symptoms. This means that the longer a person lives, the greater their chances of getting dementia.

Also, seniors might have more problems that present a risk of dementia, such as a weaker immune system, high blood pressure, brain cells that are not as active as they used to be when the person was younger, and so on.

2. Ethnicity

The place you come from and your ethnicity are also factors that can present a risk of dementia, and you can’t control them. There are more studies out there that suggest some people have a higher chance of getting dementia at some point in their lives.

People of South Asian, Black African, and Black Caribbean ethnicities are more likely to develop symptoms of dementia than people of other ethnicities. One possible reason for this might be the fact that people of South Asian, Black African, and Black Caribbean ethnicities have a higher chance of getting cardiovascular disease and diabetes, both of which are important risk factors for dementia.

The risk of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, is higher among those with type 2 diabetes in midlife (between 45 and 65 years old). Also, obesity increases the risk of dementia because it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

3. Herpes

Believe it or not, infection with the Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) is one factor that increases the risk of dementia. Oral herpes is quite common, and there are many people who don’t even know they are infected with it.

HSV1 is generally transmitted when you come into contact with the virus through saliva, surfaces in or around the mouth, or sores. Usually, the virus causes blisters around the mouth, but sometimes it can also infect your brain.

Recent studies have revealed that HSV1 can cause mental decline. Initially, it was believed that it couldn’t trigger dementia, but now lab research done on a realistic brain has found out that the virus might trigger Alzheimer’s disease. This can also include clumps of protein and swelling in the brain tissue.

4. Depression

The risk of dementia can also be increased by depression. Mental health is extremely important, and we should try to treat ourselves if needed since this can truly improve the length and quality of our lives.

So, as we said, dementia is more likely to occur in those who have experienced depressive episodes in the past. The main reason for this is that depression affects the way we cope with stress and difficulties. Also, the way of thinking is affected.

The possibility of lowering a person’s risk of dementia by treating their depression with antidepressants is still unknown. But preventing depression in the first place is also the most effective way to prevent dementia caused by depression.

5. Genes

The genetic background controls everything about us and our lives, so it was only normal for it to also be a factor in the risk of dementia. If we want to talk about genes, it is essential to mention that there are two types of genes involved: risk genes and familial genes.

Risk genes are more common than familial genes, and they are known to increase the risk of dementia. Though the risk is much lower than in the case of familial genes. There are more than 20 known risk genes, and they slightly increase the risk of dementia.

The most “dangerous” one is apolipoprotein E (APOE). Some variants of this gene can increase the chance of a person getting dementia by four times.

Now, the familial genes are something else. They can definitely trigger dementia if they are passed down from a parent to their child. A child’s likelihood of inheriting a family gene and getting dementia increases by one in two if one parent carries the gene. This is a pretty high chance!

The familial genes are generally extremely rare, but if they exist, the risk of developing frontotemporal dementia is very high – 1 in 3 cases.

6. Lifestyle factors

From all of the factors we listed here, this one is something that you can more or less control. We are talking about your lifestyle choices. There is a lot of evidence that clearly states that lifestyle factors affect the risk of dementia.

Studies have shown that people who have healthy habits between the ages of 40 and 65 have the lowest risk of developing dementia symptoms. These habits include not smoking, a healthy diet, drinking in moderation, and mental and physical activity.

If you engage in at least three of these behaviors, your chance of developing dementia is the lowest. The risk is only slightly reduced by engaging in one or two of these behaviors.

Smoking can affect the brain and increase the risk of stroke. Unhealthy foods might also increase blood pressure, which is also a factor in dementia. Too much alcohol exposes your brain to toxic substances, which can cause damage to brain cells. The suggested weekly intake of alcohol is 14 units, which should preferably be consumed over the course of three days rather than all at once.

risk of dementia
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7. Cognitive reserve

Cognitive reserve is all about the way you cope with diseases of the brain. And if you want to have an efficient cognitive response, you should train your brain and keep it active over the course of your life.

The more cognitive reserve you have, the better your brain will fight any disease that can impact everyday tasks. Those who have a larger cognitive reserve can effectively delay the onset of the symptoms of dementia.

There are more factors that can cause a small cognitive reserve, but the three most important are social isolation, leaving education early, and a job that is not complex.

Generally, people develop this reserve during childhood and early adulthood, but you can keep your mind active later in life, and this will still help.

Crosswords are an amazing way to keep your brain active, and if you want to do this, you can try these great puzzles: USA TODAY Crossword: 200 Puzzles from The Nation’s No. 1 Newspaper (USA Today Puzzles)

You should also read: 14 Causes of Stroke You CAN Control, According to Science


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