Surprising Signs of Dementia Everyone Should Know

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If you think dementia only happens to someone else, think again. New research shows that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are reaching epidemic proportions. In fact, right now over 11% of seniors over the age of 65 already have Alzheimer’s. This number doesn’t even include other forms of dementia.

So, how do you protect yourself from the ravages of this debilitating disease? Of course I’ve provided you with many professional tips for how to minimize your risk in previous articles. Examples include getting plenty of sleep, minimizing use of anticholinergic drugs, breathing clean air, and eating foods rich in antioxidants and polyphenols.

In addition to all those things, early detection can help minimize and possibly stave off its worst effects. Being diagnosed early can get you started on the best course of treatment for your type of dementia. It gives you time to make decisions about your future and get your support systems in place.

In today’s article I’m going to share with you some of the surprising new signs of dementia that have just been discovered.

If it turns out you do have the beginnings of dementia, you can get a jump on treatment and take steps to minimize or eliminate the danger.

Difficulty Chewing

The act of biting into and chewing hard food like an apple can predict your chances of developing dementia. A recent Swedish study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society is troubling. Nearly 600 people over the age of 77 were studied. Those who had difficulty chewing hard foods like apples had an elevated risk of dementia.

The reason? Although researchers are still unsure, there seems to be a growing consensus. Because older people may have weaker jaws, fewer teeth, or other jaw and dental problems compared to younger people, they chew less. This reduces the flow of blood to the brain, which can lead to dementia.

Walking Slowly

Several studies have found a connection between slow walking and the symptoms of cognitive decline. Special tests studied the walking patterns of older subjects using high-tech motion-sensing equipment.

Researchers determined that those people with a slow pace of walking had smaller total brain volume. This same finding is often the case with dementia sufferers. Again, this may be tied in to the amount of blood flowing to the brain. Slow walkers don’t pump as much blood to their brains as faster walkers.

Trouble Sleeping

It turns out your current sleep cycle might lead to dementia. In a recent study published in Annals of Neurology, over 1300 women in good health over the age of 75 were studied for five years. At the end of the study, 39 percent had developed various forms of dementia or cognitive impairment.

Researchers determined that the women who had trouble sleeping and did less physical activity earlier in the day were more susceptible. In fact, these women were a whopping 80 percent more likely to develop dementia or cognitive issues compared to the others.  

Being Overweight

It’s no surprise that carrying extra weight is tied to lots of health risks including heart disease, arthritis, and Type 2 diabetes. Turns out it might be a factor in dementia, too.

A recent study tied higher weight to a higher risk of dementia. Out of nearly 9000 twins age 65 and older, 350 were diagnosed with dementia. Another 114 were diagnosed with possible dementia. Researchers found that those who had dementia or possible dementia were 70 percent more likely to have been overweight at some point during the previous 30 years.

Are you concerned that your extra weight might lead to cognitive problems later? If so, you might want to consider doing some modest exercise on a regular basis. This doesn’t have to involve a trip to the gym or running on a treadmill. It can be something as simple as taking a 30-minute walk or doing some light yard work.

Anything that gets the blood pumping into your brain is a great start. Studies show that moderate exercise protects the brain as you age.  

Being Depressed

Feeling blue? That’s not just bad for your emotional health. Depression can do a number on your brain health as well. A recent report in the Archives of General Psychiatry studied medical records of 13,000 people over a six-year period. Those who suffered from depression later in life were at twice the risk of getting Alzheimer’s than those who did not. Not only that, but people with mid-life and late-life depression were at triple the risk of getting vascular dementia.

It might be worth your while to try to chase those blues away with a little exercise or other depression-busting activities. Moderate exercise, hobbies, and getting outdoors have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression.

Dementia is a Mixed Bag

Dementia is not a single condition. It’s an umbrella term for a range of cognitive problems. Each case of dementia – difficulty with memory and thinking – might be the result of several different underlying issues. That explains why people with dementia don’t all have the same symptoms.

The first step is recognizing there is a problem. Next is determining the underlying cause of the dementia. An early diagnosis can be helpful because some causes are treatable and partially or fully reversible. Factors like medication side effects and vitamin deficiencies can fall into this category.

That’s why it’s so important to stay current with the early warning signs of dementia. Be aware of your mental health and tell your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms you think might be signs of dementia. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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