Dementia can be frightening, as anyone who has seen Anthony Hopkins in The Father can see, and there are factors that increase your risk significantly. “Dementia is a term for a collection of symptoms of cognitive decline including disruptions in language, memory, attention, recognition, problem solving, and decision-making that interferes with daily activities,” says the CDC. “What increases the risk for dementia?” Read on for 5 key factors so you can know if you’re at risk—and to ensure your health is A-OK, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.
You can start aging as young as 30, with normal signs including shrinking bones, loss of muscle mass, bladder and bowel issues, loss of skin elasticity and even some cognition issues. Dementia, however? “Although 5.8 million people in the U.S. have dementia, it is not normal aging of the brain,” says the CDC. Yet age plays a factor. “The strongest known risk factor for dementia is increasing age, with most cases affecting those of 65 years and older,” says the CDC.
Do any of your family members suffer from dementia? “Those who have parents or siblings with dementia are more likely to develop dementia themselves,” says the CDC. “Studies of family history say that if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease—the most common form of dementia in older adults—your risk increases by about 30%. This is a relative risk increase, meaning a 30% hike in your existing risk,” reports Harvard Health.
“Older African Americans are twice more likely to have dementia than whites. Hispanics 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than whites,” says the CDC. Why? One reason: “High blood pressure and diabetes — suspected risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other dementias — are more prevalent in the African American community, and diabetes is more prevalent in the Hispanic community. These conditions, among others, may contribute to the greater prevalence of Alzheimer’s among these groups,” says the Alzheimer’s Association.
“High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking increase the risk of dementia if not treated properly,” says the CDC. “There is increasing evidence connecting cardiovascular risk factors with brain health,” says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, M.D., M.H.S., associate director of the Lipid Clinic at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.
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If you’ve had a terrible fall, been in a car accident or, goodness forbid, been shot, you have a great risk of developing dementia. “Head injuries can increase the risk of dementia, especially if they are severe or occur repeatedly,” says the CDC. Even a mild injury can cause lasting damage. Contact a medical professional if you feel you are developing dementia, and to protect your health, don’t miss these Signs You’re Getting One of the “Most Deadly” Cancers.