Perspectives on Facing Dementia

Best practices to reduce odds of getting dementia

As a 70 year old, one of the scariest words to me is “dementia.” So, how can we deal with it better?

According to the National Institute on Aging:

“Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning — thinking, remembering, and reasoning — and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. These functions include memory, language skills, visual perception, problem solving, self-management, and the ability to focus and pay attention. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.”

This does sound pretty scary, right? BUT:While dementia is more common as people grow older (up to half of all people age 85 or older may have some form of dementia), it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.”

To learn more, visit these resources:

The last of these resources, highlights a recent research study that found:

“In all, nearly half of respondents to the National Poll on Healthy Aging felt they were likely to develop dementia as they aged, and nearly as many worried about this prospect. [The poll asked 1,028 adults ages 50 to 64 a range of brain health questions.] In reality, research suggests that less than 20 percent of people who have reached age 65 will go on to lose cognitive ability from Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or other conditions.

“Despite the brain-related concerns of so many respondents, only 5 percent of the entire group, and 10 percent of those who said they had a family history of dementia, said they had talked with a health care provider about how to prevent memory problems.”

“The poll shows that a greater percentage of adults in their 50s and early 60s who say they get adequate sleep and exercise, eat healthily, and are active socially at least several times a week felt their memory was just as sharp now as it was when they were younger, compared to those who do not engage in these healthy behaviors as frequently. But those who said their health was fair or poor, or who reported that they didn’t often engage in healthy lifestyle practices, were much more likely to say that their memory had declined since their younger years. In all, 59 percent of poll respondents said their memory was slightly worse than it used to be.”

“For anyone who wants to stay as sharp as possible as they age, the evidence is clear: Focus on your diet, your exercise, your sleep, and your blood pressure. Don’t focus on worrying about what might happen, or the products you can buy that promise to help, but rather focus on what you can do now that research has proven to help.”

Perspectives on Facing Dementia
Credit: Getty Images

 

Author: Living Well with Cancer

I am a long-time business school professor, who is a Pancreatic Cancer survivor. I had Whipple surgery on February 12, 2015. In this blog, I want to help others live well with cancer. A positive attitude, caring family, strong medical team, and supportive colleagues are key. And support from other cancer survivors can be life affirming.

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