Dementia is an umbrella term for symptoms associated with a progressive decline in cognitive functioning that affects a person’s ability to perform the activities that make up daily life. Mild memory loss to severe intellectual and physical disabilities are all possible.
People with Dementia have difficulty with communication, decision-making, and even mobility. Memory problems are the most common symptom of Dementia. Still, there are other signs, such as changes in personalities or behaviors, difficulties carrying out everyday tasks, and confusion in familiar surroundings.
Even though no cure exists, there are treatments and therapies which can help individuals maintain their independence and quality of life.
Why Does Dementia Occur?
Dementia may be brought on by several conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, which may be the root cause in up to 70% of cases.
Injuries to the head from falls or accidents, stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) are some additional potential causes.
In some cases, Dementia may also be caused by lifestyle factors such as poor nutrition or alcohol abuse.
Let’s look at some of the most common forms of Dementia.
The most prevalent type of Dementia, accounting for up to 70% of cases, is Alzheimer’s disease. It is brought on by a buildup of amyloid plaques and tangles, which are proteins that result in the death of brain cells.
Symptoms include difficulty remembering recent events, confusion about time and place, changes in personality or behavior, trouble communicating, and problems completing everyday tasks.
Treatment focuses on symptom management and quality of life enhancement through physical activity, social interaction, stress reduction, and prescription drugs like cholinesterase inhibitors.
Vascular Dementia is brought on by a reduction in blood flow to the brain due to stroke- or blood vessel-related damage in the brain.
It generally affects people over age 65 and can cause memory loss, confusion, difficulty thinking logically or planning, and difficulty walking or speaking typically.
Treatment focuses on controlling risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and managing symptoms with medications such as antidepressants or cholinesterase inhibitors.
For people with balance issues brought on by vascular Dementia, physical therapy may be advised.
Lewy Body Disease
Lewy body disease occurs when abnormal deposits called Lewy bodies to form in areas of the brain responsible for movement, mood regulation, behavior control, sleep patterns, memory formation, and thinking processes.
It can lead to cognitive difficulties, including visual hallucinations; sleep disturbances; rigid muscles; tremors; impaired movements; changes in alertness; difficulty speaking; depression; anxiety; paranoia; delusions; agitation; aggression; addiction issues, and increased risk for falls.
Treatment typically includes medications such as cholinesterase inhibitors or dopamine agonists, along with counseling from psychiatrists or psychologists specializing in treating people with Lewy body disease.
How Physical Activity Lowers the Risk of Dementia
Numerous studies have shown that people who regularly exercise are less likely to develop Dementia. Read on to find out how.
Increased Cognitive Function
Physical activity has been shown to increase cognitive function in older adults. Studies have found that individuals who exercised regularly had better scores on tests related to attention, memory, and executive functioning than those who were significantly less active.
In addition, according to one study published in the journal Neurology, regular exercise was associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline in older adults over 75. Exercise may support maintaining brain health as you age.
Better Blood Flow
Exercise also helps improve blood flow throughout the body. This improved circulation increases oxygen levels in the brain, which can help boost cognitive performance and reduce the risk of Dementia.
Regular exercise can also aid in keeping cholesterol levels in check, which in turn helps to improve blood flow throughout the body, particularly to the brain. Even spending a few minutes daily on a recumbent bike can make a big difference.
Lowered Stress Levels
An increased risk of developing Dementia later in life has been linked to high levels of stress. Exercise has been shown to lower stress levels by increasing endorphin levels in the body, elevating mood generally, and promoting relaxation.
Exercise also works as a distraction from everyday worries or anxieties, which can help reduce overall stress levels and combat potential mental health issues like anxiety or depression that could contribute to dementia risk factors down the line.
Your risk of developing Dementia later in life can be significantly decreased by staying physically fit. Regular exercise boosts cognitive performance while providing other mental health benefits, such as reducing stress levels through improved blood flow and endorphin release into your system.
Incorporating regular exercises for dementia prevention into your daily routine is vital when it comes to maintaining optimal brain health and reducing the likelihood of developing the disease over time. Now get out there and start moving.