Dementia has been defined as a significant decline in a person’s cognitive abilities due to damaged brain cells that disable cognitive functions. Dementia symptoms may range from memory loss to a decline in thinking, communication and behavior skills. In the case of Alzheimer’s, damaged cells in the hippocampus area of the brain affect memory and learning, resulting in memory loss. As time progresses, dementia can make it difficult for people to perform even the simplest of daily tasks.
There are various types of dementia with varying degrees of mental decline. The most common is Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for almost 80 percent of dementia cases. In second place is vascular dementia, caused by a stroke. Other types of dementia include:
- Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)
- Mixed dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- Huntington’s disease
In addition to memory loss, people suffering from dementia may have difficulty with verbal communications, visual perception, concentration, reasoning or making judgments. Symptoms often start small and increase over time.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from this condition, consult your doctor for a professional diagnosis. Early diagnosis could enable you to benefit from medications or therapies that can reduce the severity of symptoms so you can lead a more normal life. It will also give you time to prepare for the future.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for dementia at this time. However, preventative health measures could help reduce the risk of developing this disease. A healthy lifestyle that enhances heart health, physical fitness and mental stimulation could keep dementia symptoms at bay while enabling you to enjoy a higher quality of life.
Heart Health: A healthy heart will enhance blood circulation to all parts of your body, including your brain, so that it functions at top capacity. If the brain is deprived of nourishment (blood and oxygen) due to poor circulation or damaged blood vessels, you could suffer from mental decline. By taking steps to protect your heart, you can protect your brain, reducing the risk of dementia.
Physical Fitness: Exercise enhances brain health by increasing oxygen and blood flow to brain cells. Regular exercise along with a healthy diet can also lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and help maintain proper weight – all of which are necessary for a healthy life.
Diet: Your diet will greatly impact the health of your brain and heart. Research shows that a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, nuts and healthy fats (combined with regular exercise) will not only improve your overall health but will keep off excess pounds that can put extra pressure on your heart.
Coping with Dementia
Dementia is rarely an overnight occurrence and is usually a gradual progression. It is important to have a long-term care plan in place so you are prepared to handle changes as soon as they happen. If it becomes difficult for you or a loved one to live on their own, Friendship at Home can help. We offer personalized assisted living services by an experienced home care coordinator qualified to meet your healthcare needs. With Friendship at Home, you can count on dependable assisted living care from the comfort and safety of your own home.