Dementia is a term used to describe a group of diseases linked to the ongoing decline of brain functioning.
The four most common types of dementia are vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to affect 850,000 people in the UK.
The first sign of the condition is usually minor memory problems, but as the condition develops, these become more severe and further symptoms can develop.
One of the first Alzheimer’s symptoms is difficulty remembering times and dates and taking in new information, such as learning to do something new.
According to Bupa, other Alzheimer’s symptoms that may appear first include memory lapses such as:
- Forgetting names of people and places
- Difficulty finding words for things
- Not remembering recent events
- Forgetting appointments
There may also be signs of changes in behaviour. The health body adds the person may become more withdrawn and lose interest in their usual activities and hobbies.
As the condition worsens, they may have:
- Greater difficulty planning and making decisions
- Difficulty with language
- Difficulty carrying out instructions for specific tasks
While there’s no sure way to prevent dementia, there are steps you can take that may help. Mayo Clinic outlines five.
Get enough vitamin D
Research suggests that people with low levels of vitamin D in their blood are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
To make sure you get enough, eat vitamin D-rich foods, supplements and get plenty of sun exposure.
Keep your mind active
Mentally stimulating activities such as reading, solving puzzles and playing word games, and memory training may delay the onset of dementia and decrease its effects.
Be physically and socially active
Physical activity and social interaction may delay the onset of dementia and reduce its symptoms. You should make sure to move more and sim for 150 minutes of exercise a week.
Maintain a healthy diet
The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in certain fish and nuts, has been found to lower your risk of developing dementia.
Some studies have shown smoking in middle age and beyond may increase your risk of dementia and blood vessel (vascular) conditions. Quitting smoking may reduce your risk.
What is frontotemporal dementia?