24 Jan Dementia and Depression: How to Lower our Risks
Dementia and Depression: How to Lower our Risks
What is the biggest fear of seniors ? According to the Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, 62% of seniors fear memory loss, whereas 29% of seniors fear losing their physical abilities. Surprisingly, for those 65 years and older, 1 in 10 have some type of dementia. After age 85, that occurance increases to 1 in 3. Alzheimer ’s Disease, the most common form of dementia, is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the 3rd leading cause of death in California.
Although clinical trials and research are being conducted to find a cure, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, which progresses to become fatal. Many people asked me what the benefit of being diagnosed is when there is currently no prevention or cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. My response is we can learn how to respond to each stage and prepare for difficult situations before a traumatic event occurs. For example, if they have difficulty in recalling their phone number or address, we can prepare for that by applying for the Safe Return Program for ID bracelets or necklaces. With memory decline, there is an increased need for assistance in the form of caregivers and possibly a medical decision-maker or power of attorney.
While we cannot say we can prevent dementia from happening, there are things we can do to lower our risks for Alzheimer’s Disease. According to a recent study, 35% of dementia risk is modifiable. For example, smoking in later life (above 65-year-old) (5%), depression (4%), physical inactivity (3%), and social isolation (2%), all contribute to the onset of dementia.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, social workers noticed an increased number of seniors living in social isolation with depression and cognitive decline. Lack of socialization can lead to memory loss which can lead to depression. Some seniors complain about depressive feelings but refuse to be diagnosed with depression due to stigma. As seniors age, they tend to have increased feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and decreased motivation.
Early signs of depression can be temporary. However, untreated depressive feelings will get worse. Depression does not have to be part of the aging process. While struggling with multiple diseases, loss of social roles, loss of independence, and loss of family and friends, seniors can develop depression, which can increase the risk of dementia. Talk to each other, your neighbors, and your parents, and encourage them to be socially and physically active. In the long run, there are ways to reduce the risk of developing both Alzheimer’s Disease and depression.
If you or someone you know is struggling with dementia or depression, LTSC may be able to help provide resources. Please call 213-473- 3035.