Damage to brain cells is the root cause of dementia. When the brain cells can't "talk" to each other, it affects a person's ability to communicate, reason, and remember.
Although dementia happens mostly in older adults, it's not a normal part of aging.
Researchers believe that dementia is likely to develop from many factors, including lifestyle, family history, and environment.
Dementia risk factors and complications
There are risk factors that make it more likely you'll suffer some form of dementia.
- Age. The older you are, the greater your chances of getting dementia.
- Family history. If your parents or sibling had dementia, you're more likely to get it.
- Chronic health conditions. Diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol are common in people with dementia.
- Smoking. Smokers are more likely to develop many diseases, including dementia.
- Being African American or Hispanic. These ethnic groups have a higher likelihood of dementia.
- Traumatic brain injury. Even a single head injury, from sports or other trauma, increases the likelihood that you'll get dementia later in life. The more head injuries you have, the greater your risk.
Complications of dementia include:
- Loss of ability to communicate.
- Loss of ability to care for oneself.
- Memory loss.
- Inability to recognize loved ones.
- Increased mobility issues.
- Increased risk of infections.
- Decreased lifespan.
How to prevent dementia
At the present, there's no cure for dementia. But there are lifestyle changes you can make to delay or even prevent the onset of it.
To help keep your brain sharp and healthy, you should:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Keep your blood pressure under control.
- Stay (or become) physically active.
- Form good sleep habits.
- Manage your diabetes.
- Develop a good social network.
Why choose UPMC for Alzheimer's care?
UPMC Senior Services:
- Provides resources for older adults and their loved ones.
- Educates people on the physical, mental, and social challenges faced by older adults.
- Offers outreach programs to empower older adults and their families.