Dementia is an umbrella term for a wide range of symptoms associated with cognitive decline and memory loss. It affects millions of people worldwide; WHO currently reports 55 million dementia sufferers around the world. The belief that low and middle-income populations are more heavily affected is partially incorrect. Approximately 6 in 10 individuals with dementia live in a low to middle-income country. This means that 4 in 10 live in a high-income country and have access to the necessary medical care.
While this isn’t to say that low income and medical access can contribute to a cognitive decline of some sort, it appears evident that other contributing factors play a much more significant role in the development of dementia.
Loneliness is one of the major contributing factors to dementia and cognitive decline. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including a lack of meaningful social connections or an inability to engage with the world around you.
For those living alone, loneliness can be especially difficult and linked to poorer cognitive health in later health. Studies have found that loneliness decreases mental stimulation and affects your hormonal balance. It increases levels of cortisol, the stress hormone associated with an increased risk for dementia, and decreases the levels of oxytocin, the hormone associated with positive mental health and social connections.
The loneliness epidemic is not only an emotional state. It can have a physical impact on the body and the brain, driving the risks for dementia higher.
According to research, people with untreated hearing loss are 5 times more likely to develop dementia than those without hearing problems. This is because the part of the brain that typically processes and analyzes sounds becomes inactive. The local brain atrophy can put your brain at risk.
Additionally, hearing loss affects your ability to communicate and maintain a social circle. As a result, individuals living with untreated hearing loss are more likely to become isolated and experience loneliness. This is why hearing technology and especially hearing aids, can make a huge difference not only to your quality of life but also to your brain health.
A hectic lifestyle
There is no denying that the consequences of a hectic lifestyle on physical and mental health are known. High stress, sleep deprivation, and prolonged sitting at a desk are all major health warnings.
Yet, most people fail to realize that the same factors can also create a favorable terrain for dementia. Indeed, the demands of everyday life can make it difficult for individuals to maintain healthy habits, such as a balanced diet and physical activities. These can aggravate risks of affecting brain health.
Poor blood work
Dementia and cognitive decline are conditions associated with degeneration of the cells and processes at a brain’s level. Lifestyle and social factors can affect brain health. Blood, the major agent driving nutrition and oxygen to the brain, is also central to its health.
Hypertension increases the risks of a stroke, which can cause damage to the brain and contribute to developing dementia. Additionally, when the blood pressure is extremely high, it can also damage small vessels, including those in the brain.
Diabetes, aka high blood sugar level, also damages blood vessels and can even reduce oxygen delivery to the brain.
The belief that people who lack regular mental stimulation are more exposed to dementia is partially incorrect. Cognitive stimulation can keep the brain active, but maintaining brain health is a broader issue affecting every element of your lifestyle, regardless of income.
Leave a Reply