Facing dementia can be difficult, both for the individual who experiences it and for that person’s loved ones. Dementia impacts someone’s cognitive function, capacity for daily function, and ability to communicate. Coming to a more complete understanding of factors that may contribute to dementia can help you watch out for common catalysts and better prepare for the future. These are some potential causes of dementia.
Traumatic Brain Injury
One of the most common potential causes of various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is a traumatic brain injury. Just one traumatic brain injury may substantially increase an individual’s risk of dementia. Additionally, even mild brain injuries can noticeably increase the risk of developing dementia later on. The risk of developing dementia also seems to go up in proportion to the severity of the traumatic brain injury. A single severe traumatic brain injury can result in twice the risk of dementia development that a mild traumatic brain injury causes.
Genetics also seem to have a significant impact on an individual’s likelihood of developing a form of dementia. Certain studies have found that people with a higher genetic predisposition toward dementia are more likely to develop it over time. While results vary from one individual to the next, genetic background and family history can serve as potential indicators of whether dementia is something for you to watch out for. If others in your family have shown a predisposition towards dementia, then you may have a higher genetic risk factor. The exact effects that genetics have upon an individual’s likelihood to develop dementia are complicated and include a huge amount of variance, which raises questions as to whether these effects can be countered by environmental factors.
Lack of Mental Stimulation
Speaking of environmental factors, your level of ongoing activity and mental stimulation has a huge impact on your likelihood of suffering from dementia. Even in the face of traumatic brain injury or a genetic predisposition towards dementia, staying active and regularly participating in mentally engaging activities can decrease your risk. You can think of your mind as being similar to a muscle: If you don’t use it regularly and keep it fit, it’s going to weaken and deteriorate over time. A bland, predictable, and boring environment that’s devoid of excitement and mental stimulation can greatly increase the risk of losing cognitive function. In addition to staying healthy overall by maintaining a healthy diet rich in brain-boosting antioxidant foods that provide great nutrition, you can keep your mind healthy by regularly engaging in hobbies, learning new things, and solving recreational puzzles.
A variety of different factors contribute to an individual’s risk for dementia, and some seem to be especially common. Even a single traumatic brain injury can dramatically increase someone’s risk of developing dementia, and medical history of brain injury should be taken as a strong motivator to be proactive by staying active and healthy. Genetic predisposition may also be a factor for some people, although an individual’s level of genetic risk may be somewhat offset by environmental factors. Make sure you prioritize mentally stimulating activities that engage the brain in order to decrease this risk.