There are a lot of factors that may contribute to the onset of dementia. Some can be changed, some can’t. To better prepare yourself for the future, learn what factors may contribute to dementia and whether your parent is at risk.
Quiz: Dementia Risk Factors
Does your parent have these dementia risk factors? Take this quiz to see if your parent might be more likely to develop dementia symptoms. Give yourself one point for every question you answer with a “yes.”
- Is your parent over the age of 70? (If they are over 85, give two points.)
- In their 40s and 50s, did they regularly have more than five beers or one bottle of wine in one sitting?
- Do they have high cholesterol?
- Have they been diagnosed with diabetes? (Give two points if the diabetes is poorly controlled.)
- Is there a family history of early onset dementia symptoms?
- Did they have high blood pressure in their 40s and 50s?
- Do they suffer from depression?
- Is your parent a smoker or regularly exposed to secondhand smoke?
- Did they suffer a moderate or severe head injury later in life?
- Is your parent overweight?
- Is your parent physically inactive?
Results: The Likelihood of Developing Dementia
Finished tallying your points? Follow this guide to determine the likelihood of your parent developing dementia symptoms:
1-3 points: Low Risk. Your parent is not likely to develop dementia symptoms. However, keep an eye out for these early warning signs of dementia to be safe.
4-8 points: Moderate Risk. It is more likely that your parent will one day develop signs of dementia. Although it’s impossible to say for sure whether or not someone will suffer from dementia, it’s a good idea to have an aging care plan in place. Independent living or assisted living communities are good ways to ensure future needs will be met.
9-13 points: High Risk. If you found yourself answering yes to almost all the questions above, your parent has a high risk of developing dementia. However, don’t panic. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will develop dementia. But it’s a good idea to be proactive, so take this opportunity to plan for the future and reduce the risk factors that can be changed.
Dementia Risk Factors Explained
Some dementia risk factors can’t be changed, like age and genetics. In terms of age, people aged 65-69 have a relatively low risk of developing dementia--only about 1 in 70 people have it. However, the chance of developing dementia increases with age. Almost a quarter of people from 85-89 have it.
Researchers are still studying the link between genetics and dementia, but it is thought that for the most part, a majority of dementia types are not inherited. However, there are certain genetic factors that can predispose your parent to developing dementia symptoms. For example, Alzheimer’s disease (a common cause of dementia) is not usually passed down but other causes of dementia, like Huntington's disease, can be inherited.
Other risk factors can be minimized through lifestyle changes. For starters, it’s a good idea to cut back on unhealthy habits like heavy drinking or smoking. One study found that people who binge drank in midlife were three times more likely to have dementia by the time they were 65. And people who smoke have a 45% higher risk of developing dementia than non-smokers.
Being overweight, having high blood pressure, or having high cholesterol also contribute to raising the risk of dementia. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can lead to strokes, which is a cause of vascular dementia. And a study found that there is a significant link between being overweight and an increased risk of dementia.
There’s also a mental health component to developing dementia. Those who suffer from depression have a higher risk of developing dementia. Some scientists theorize that depression is an early dementia sign and others that it damages the brain, thus leading to dementia. Either way, the link is clear.
So in order to reduce the risk of dementia and stay healthy, it’s important to keep in mind the mind-body and body-mind connection. Both are linked; one affects the other. As your parent ages, encourage them to stay both mentally and physically active.
The Esquiline Lifestyle: Healthy Mind, Healthy Body
The Esquiline fosters wellness by providing support for the four pillars of well-being: physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual wellness. With independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing all under one roof, we meet your parent's needs with attentive, person-guided care every step of the way.
Find out more about The Esquiline by calling us at 800-533-6279 or contacting us online today.