Yoga & Fitness

Is It Possible To Prevent Dementia? Expert Shares What Makes Dementia Prevention Challenging

Dementia is a syndrome that causes a decline in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from normal ageing and it poses a significant public health challenge. The problem with dementia is that its exact cause is not known yet, only the factors that can increase its likelihood.

As our understanding of dementia grows, the question of whether it is possible to prevent this debilitating condition becomes increasingly important. To understand what makes dementia challenging, the team of OnlyMyHealth spoke to Dr Supriya Mohite, Masters Audiology and Speech-Language Pathologist, Owner and Founder, Hear-It Hearing & Speech Clinic, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai.

Expert Shares If It Is Possible To Prevent Dementia

Is It Possible To Prevent Dementia?

Researchers and healthcare professionals have been exploring various strategies to prevent or delay the onset of dementia. According to the World Health Organisation, the most common risk factors of dementia are ageing and genetics. “Firstly, age plays a role, as the risk increases with advancing years. Genetics also contribute, as certain genes may heighten susceptibility,” said Dr Mohite.

A study led by researchers from the University of Michigan stated that genetic factors play a role in dementia risk, with certain gene variants associated with a higher likelihood of developing the condition. In the cases of both these factors, preventive measures may only work to delay the onset of dementia and reduce its severity, entirely preventing dementia is still challenging.

A few reasons why it is challenging to prevent dementia are:

  • Complexity of the Brain: The exact mechanisms behind diseases like Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, are still not fully understood, making targeted prevention challenging.
  • Late Identification: Dementia often becomes evident only in the later stages, making it difficult to pinpoint when preventative measures should be implemented.
  • Individual Variability: People age differently, and what works as a preventive measure for one individual may not have the same impact on another. 
  • Limited Treatment Options: Currently, there are no definitive pharmacological interventions that can prevent or cure dementia. Available medications aim to manage symptoms rather than address the root causes, posing a significant hurdle in the prevention efforts.
Expert Shares If It Is Possible To Prevent Dementia

Preventing Dementia

“The complexity of the interrelated risk factors makes dementia prevention challenging, requiring a holistic approach that addresses multiple factors simultaneously for effective dementia risk reduction, said Dr Mohite. 

  • Talking about the ways to delay the onset and severity of dementia, she listed:
  • Make healthy lifestyle modifications, like eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting quality sleep.
  • If you suffer from conditions like diabetes or hypertension, make sure you manage them properly
  • Social engagement and cognitive stimulation are protective factors that are often overlooked. Practice mentally challenging puzzles and participate in social activities that stimulate your thinking, and memory, and keep you happy.
  • Long-term hearing loss also contributes to the risk of dementia.

While we cannot change our genetics, understanding these risk factors allows for early interventions and personalised approaches to care.

While the challenges are substantial, ongoing research offers hope. Advances in technology, such as brain imaging and biomarker studies, provide valuable insights into the early stages of dementia. This knowledge can pave the way for more targeted and personalised prevention strategies.

Also Read: Hearing Loss Can Increase The Risk Of Dementia By Five Times, Expert Shares How Hearing Aids Can Prevent This

Hence it is apparent that in the pursuit of preventing dementia, a holistic approach is essential. Combining lifestyle modifications, genetic insights, early detection, and ongoing research efforts holds promise. While a foolproof prevention method may still be on the horizon, the collective efforts of the scientific community are gradually unravelling the complexities surrounding dementia, offering a glimpse of a future where prevention may become a reality.

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