A chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.
Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
- Down Syndrome
- Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)
- Huntington’s Disease
- Korsakoff Syndrome
- Lewy Body Dementia (LBD)
- Mixed Dementia
- Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH)
- Parkinson’s Disease Dementia
- Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA)
- Vascular Dementia
Many dementias have unknown causes (Alzheimers, Korsakoff, LBD, PCA). Others can be due to:
- Damaged blood vessels (Vascular Dementia)
- Genetics (CJD, Down Syndrome, FTD, Huntington’s)
- Head injury, infection, inflammation (NPH)
- Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia
- Worldwide, about 50 million people have dementia, and 10 million are diagnosed each year.
- Alcohol Use
- History of Cardiovascular Disease
- Family History
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Sleep Apnea
It is difficult to prevent dementia, as many causes are unknown. However, the following lifestyle changes can benefit all adults:
- Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Exercise (aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week)
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Manage chronic diseases
- Quit Smoking
- Socially connect
- Stay mentally alert (do puzzles, take up a hobby, read)
Getting vaccinated is an important step in staying healthy.
The CDC recommends all adults receive:
- Influenza – recommended every year, age 6 months and older
- Tdap – (if an adult did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.
As people age, their immune systems tend to weaken over time. The CDC therefore recommends that adults over the age of 55 also receive:
Talk to your doctor about which other vaccines are right for you.
COVID-19 and Dementia
While dementia does not likely increase the risk of contracting COVID-19, dementia-related behaviors, increased age, and chronic health conditions may increase risk.
- Alzheimer’s Association
- Community Resource Finder
- Dementia Care Central
- Dementia Friendly America
- National Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center