Researchers are still working toward learning the exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. However, science has given us strongly supported evidence for several factors that put seniors at greater risk for developing the disease.
“Understanding the risk factors that can cause dementia are so important to prevention,” says Cydney Hansen, Marketing Director at CountryHouse, a memory care community in Granite Bay, CA. “While some factors are out of our control, others can be avoided to lower the risk. Recognizing your risks for dementia also helps you be diligent and aware of changes in your health and behavior that might signal early symptoms, allowing for a faster diagnosis and therefore, better treatment options.”
If you or a loved one are concerned about your risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, the first step is to talk with your doctor. The following information can help you understand your potential risk and help you form questions to ask, but always seek advice from a medical professional before forming conclusions about your health.
Understanding Risk Factors
According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, there are several factors that can indicate your risk for developing dementia. As Cydney mentioned, some factors, such as age, family history and genetics, are out of our control, while others, like heart health and head injuries, can be prevented in some cases. Read on to learn more about each of these factors:
- Age – Age is the number one risk factor for developing dementia. With the exception of early-onset dementia, almost all cases occur in adults ages 65 and older. The risk increases as you grow older. By age 85, approximately one in three seniors has the disease.
Since no one has yet to create a magic pill to stop aging, we can’t eliminate this risk factor. However, you can use this knowledge to increase your awareness and begin watching for signs and symptoms of the disease in yourself or your older loved ones.
- Family History – Another risk factor beyond our control is our family history. Your risk for dementia increases if your parent or sibling has the disease. If memory loss seems to trend in your family, affecting grandparents and your parents, your risk will be higher.
- Genetics – Family history is an important indicator of risk because many types of dementia are hereditary, passed on in genetics from parent to child. Research has progressed far enough to be able to determine what genes actually cause Alzheimer’s. There are some genes that simply indicate risk, while other genes are more deterministic.
- Head Injury – A traumatic brain injury can cause dementia. Any accident that hurts the brain increases the risk of developing dementia down the road. While accidents are unpredictable by nature, you can take action to protect your brain from injury by wearing your seatbelt and driving safely, wearing a helmet when you ride a bike and preventing chances of falling in your home. Install safety grab bars in the shower and handrails along stairs so an accidental fall doesn’t result in a serious injury.
- Heart Health – Research has shown that heart health and brain health are closely connected, which makes sense considering how many blood vessels flow through the brain. When the heart isn’t working correctly, it can result in poor brain health. The risk for Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia (caused by damaged blood vessels) increases with conditions that affect the heart, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These conditions are not necessarily a direct cause of Alzheimer’s, but they can increase your risk. Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your heart health or keep it as healthy as possible.
Lowering Your Risk for Dementia
The difficulty in understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias lies in the fact that most cases involve a combination of various risk factors. It is often very difficult to point to a single factor and claim it as the cause. Therefore, it’s important to have a holistic view of your health as you age in order to monitor your risk for the disease.
Researchers have found that improving one’s overall health has led to a decrease in Alzheimer’s among older adults. Those who stay physically active, eat a nutritious diet, maintain good heart health and keep socially active experience lower risks of dementia. Research also shows that eliminating tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption decreases dementia risk. All of these things are good for the brain and work to keep it healthier longer.
Your Partner in Care
If you have questions or concerns about dementia and your or a loved one’s risk of developing the disease, we suggest you talk to your doctor for medical advice. However, the team at CountryHouse would be happy to discuss our knowledge of memory loss with you in the meantime. Our team is comprised of experts in caring for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Contact us today to find a partner in memory care.
Treating people like family is at the heart of what we do.
CountryHouse at Granite Bay is the very first CountryHouse location in California. With a desirable location among Folsom Lake and the Sierra foothills, and only 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, Granite Bay was the perfect area to place our upscale memory care community. While CountryHouse at Granite Bay may be brand new to California, we are certainly not new to the needs of seniors. And just like every CountryHouse around the United States, we know that personalized care can make all the difference when it comes to quality care and peace of mind.
At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we provide personalized memory care in an environment that is beautiful and thoughtfully designed. Full of natural light, warmth and tasteful elegance, we want residents and their families to feel welcome and at home. In fact, our staff members are even hand-picked based on their natural empathy. Our staff learns each resident’s story, from their likes and dislikes to their values and their pasts, in order to customize care and make meaningful connections that provide residents with true moments of joy and the desire to make the most of each day.
With our LifeCycles wellness programming, we encourage residents to connect, engage and enjoy every day. Our LifeCycles programming is designed to focus on the four dimensions of wellness: physical, social, spiritual and intellectual. We achieve this through a range of daily activities and routines, which can include daily bus rides, cookouts, trips and other special events. At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we strive to make sure our residents make the most of each day, and we believe that when you treat people like family, and keep that at the heart of what you do, residents, their families and their health thrive. Contact us to learn more!
Connect with us today or call us at 916•850•2774 for more information or to schedule a visit.
CountryHouse is part of the Agemark family of senior living communities.