Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
May 17, 2024 ·  5 min read

10 Common Causes Of Dementia

Many of us probably already know someone who has suffered or who is currently suffering from dementia. Perhaps an aunt or uncle, a grandparent, or a family friend – maybe even our own parents. Anyone watching someone go through this condition knows how difficult it is. Dementia is a neurological disorder that affects cognitive function, memory, and behavior. It is a progressive condition that primarily affects older adults, although it can also occur in younger individuals. The causes of dementia can vary, and understanding these causes is essential for potential prevention and treatment strategies. These are ten common causes of dementia and their impact on cognitive health.

Understanding Dementia

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Before delving into the causes of dementia, it is essential to have a basic understanding of the condition itself. Dementia is not a specific disease but rather a general term that describes a decline in cognitive abilities. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, followed by vascular dementia. Other forms include Parkinson’s disease dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Lewy body dementia. These different types of dementia share common symptoms, although the underlying causes may differ. (1)

Read More: This Surprising Symptom Can Predict Dementia Up to 12 Years in Advance, Study Says

Symptoms of Dementia

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The symptoms of dementia can vary from person to person, but some common signs include memory loss, difficulty with language and communication, impaired judgment and problem-solving skills, confusion, changes in behavior, and a decline in motor function. It is important to note that these symptoms often worsen over time, making early diagnosis and intervention crucial.

The 10 Causes of Dementia

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Scientists and doctors still don’t fully understand dementia. We don’t fully know what triggers it, and why some people get it while others don’t. For this reason, we still don’t have a cure, either. What researchers do know, however, are the things that put you at higher risk of developing dementia. These are 10 causes of dementia – or at least, 10 factors that could trigger this disease. (2)

1. Age

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Age is the most significant risk factor for developing dementia. As individuals get older, their risk of dementia increases. This is believed to be due to the natural aging process, which leads to changes in the brain’s structure and function. Aging may result in the formation of plaques and tangles in the brain, damaging nerve cells and creating cognitive impairment.

2. Lifestyle Choices

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Certain lifestyle choices can contribute to the development of dementia. Factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, a diet high in saturated fats and processed foods, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and lack of mental stimulation can increase the risk of cognitive decline. Engaging in regular physical exercise, adopting a healthy diet, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and engaging in mentally stimulating activities can help reduce the risk. 

Read More: This Surprising Symptom Can Predict Dementia Up to 12 Years in Advance, Study Says

3. Genetics

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Genetics play a role in the development of dementia. Individuals with a family history of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, have an increased risk of developing the condition themselves. Specific genes, such as the APOE ε4 gene, are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, having a genetic predisposition does not guarantee the development of dementia, and lifestyle factors can still have a significant impact on overall risk.

4. Isolation

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Social isolation and lack of social interaction have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Maintaining a strong social network, engaging in social activities, and participating in community events can help promote cognitive health and reduce the risk of dementia. Loneliness and social isolation can lead to depression, stress, and cognitive decline.

5. Metabolic Dysfunction

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Metabolic dysfunction, such as diabetes and obesity, is associated with an increased risk of dementia. Poor glucose control, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure can all have negative effects on the brain and contribute to cognitive decline. Managing these conditions through proper diet, exercise, and medication can help reduce the risk of developing dementia.

6. Lack of Oxygen to the Brain

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Adequate blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain are critical for optimal cognitive function. Conditions that lead to reduced blood flow, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can increase the risk of dementia. Maintaining cardiovascular health through regular exercise, a healthy diet, and managing underlying medical conditions can help prevent cognitive decline. (3)

7. Toxicity

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Toxic substances, including heavy metals (lead, mercury, aluminum, arsenic), medications, alcohol, mycotoxins, glyphosate, and chemicals or additives in foods, can contribute to dementia. Overexposure to these toxins can result in oxidative stress, inflammation, and damage to brain cells. Avoiding environmental toxins, reducing alcohol consumption, and following a diet rich in antioxidants can help minimize the risk. (4)

Read More: 7 Signs That Death May Be Near in Someone With Dementia

8. Nutrient Deficiency

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Nutrient deficiencies, particularly in vitamins B12, D, and E, have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. These vitamins play critical roles in brain health and function, and a lack of them can lead to cognitive decline. Eating a balanced diet and taking appropriate supplements can help ensure adequate nutrient intake and reduce the risk of dementia.

9. Hormones

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Hormonal imbalances, such as those seen in thyroid dysfunction and menopause, can impact cognitive function and increase the risk of dementia. These imbalances can affect brain chemistry and impair cognitive processes. Managing hormonal levels through appropriate medical intervention and lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. (5)

10. Traumatic Brain Injury

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A history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been associated with an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. TBIs can cause immediate cognitive impairments and also contribute to the long-term development of dementia. Taking measures to prevent head injuries, such as wearing protective gear during sports or using seatbelts while driving, is crucial.

The Bottom Line

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Dementia is a complex condition with a multitude of potential causes. While age is the most significant risk factor, lifestyle choices, genetics, environmental factors, and underlying health conditions can also play significant roles. Understanding these causes and their impact on cognitive health allows for more effective prevention and treatment strategies. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, managing chronic conditions, avoiding toxins, and seeking appropriate medical care, individuals can reduce their risk of developing dementia and maintain optimal cognitive function throughout their lives.

Read More: New Study: Blood Test Can Predict Dementia 10 Years Before Official Diagnosis

Sources

  1. What Is Dementia?ALZ
  2. Dementia.” Mayo Clinic
  3. Vascular Dementia.” NIH
  4. Dementia associated with toxic causes and autoimmune disease.” Pubmed. Peter Schofield. 2005.
  5. Hormones and dementia risk.” Alzheimer’s Society