dementia

Taking Steps to Prevent Dementia in Old Age Is an Important Consideration

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 by: Lynn Berry
Tags: dementia, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Research has found that high cholesterol levels in your 40's or younger increases the risk of dementia which includes Alzheimer's disease. Dementia is a syndrome which describes a disorder of memory, thinking and behaviour. It is caused by a number of serious diseases that destroy brain cells. Alzheimer's disease is the most common of these diseases.

Dementia can be thought of as brain failure. It worsens over time, progressing from a mild through to a moderate and finally to a severe stage. It progresses at different rates.

The mental capacities that decline include:

* Recent memory

* Immediate and distant memory

* Capacity to use and understand words

* Sense of where the body is in space, or where body parts are in relationship to objects and other people.

* Capacity to monitor the 'right' and 'wrong' of behaviour

* Capacity to initiate or cease speech or activity

* Comprehension of what is going on in the world around you

The consequence of the effect on the brain due to dementia is considerable. The problems due to memory loss cause confusion about time and place, about who people are, and about objects we take for granted like a knife and fork.

Other problems include being agitated and restless, walking aimlessly, wanting to escape, and wandering. People with dementia have difficulty starting and stopping routine tasks. They may also misunderstand words as well as use them in the wrong way.

As dementia occurs in older people, we don't consider that we need to take steps to prevent it, but this is just what research is telling us. Just like preventing heart disease and diabetes, we can take steps to prevent dementia.

Professor Kaarin Anstey, from the Centre for mental health research at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia published her findings on the link between high cholesterol and dementia in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Anstey says the findings show that there are prevention strategies we can adopt and that we need to do so early on in life.

Another study on dementia published around the same time by the John Hopkins University found that obesity increased the risk of dementia by 80%. Other risk factors include heavy drinking and smoking, as well as high blood pressure in your 40's.

One theory about why the brain may be affected is that, like the heart, it needs blood and oxygen delivered via arteries unaffected by cholesterol. Another theory is that free radicals damage brain cells. This theory is backed up by people with diets high in antioxidants, lots of fruits and vegetables, and such diets appear to prevent dementia.

There is another theory that excess fat around the waist contributes to brain ageing due to inflammatory chemicals that speed up the ageing process.

Dementia can be hereditary when it occurs at a younger age, usually before 65. However there is no hereditary link when it occurs later in life.

The message to prevent dementia is to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol and blood pressure, keep to low levels of alcohol, and exercise.

About the author

Lynn Berry is passionate about personal development, natural health care, justice and spirituality. She has a website at www.lynn-berry.com.

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