Many people believe that the word dementia describes a problem with memory. However, dementia is a term used to describe signs and symptoms that impact a persons cognitive abilities, memory, and social skills. A dementia diagnosis requires these aspects of a persons life to be negatively affected to the point that it interferes with their daily life. More than just memory must be impacted. There are many factors that increase the chances an older adult will develop dementia. These are called risk factors. Recently, a study identified another possible risk factor for dementia.

Dementia and Air Pollution

Past studies have looked at whether air pollution might play a role in the development of dementia. Some of them have shown a positive correlation between the two. However, to date, the connection hasnt been strong and many of the studies have been too small or not of a good enough quality to prove anything. A group of researchers in the United Kingdom decided to conduct their own study to look into it further.

The researchers examined information concerning air and noise pollution in Greater London and the United Kingdom. Then, they used data from the medical records of approximately 131,000 people between 50 and 79 years old. None of them had dementia. They followed these people for an average of 7 years.

The scientists were able to estimate the amount of pollution the participants were exposed to based on where they lived. The pollutants they were interested in were noise pollution, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), fine particle matter, and ozone (O3).

Based on the data they collected, the researchers determined that people who lived in areas where NO2 or fine particle matter were more prevalent were at a 40 percent greater risk of developing dementia. O3 and noise pollution did not appear to impact dementia risk.

More research is needed to prove a link between dementia and air pollution. However, this study is important as it may indicate a need to do a better job of improving air quality.

Other Risk Factors for Dementia

Some of the risk factors for dementia cannot be changed, such as increasing age, a family history of dementia, having Down syndrome, and mild cognitive impairment. However, there are some risk factors that older adults can work toward changing. These include:

  • Drinking too much alcohol.
  • Having risk factors for cardiovascular disease, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.
  • Depression.
  • Diabetes.
  • Smoking.
  • Sleep apnea.

Home care is one way that family caregivers can help their aging relatives improve modifiable risk factors for dementia. Home care providers can assist with bettering the overall health of older adults by preparing healthy meals and keeping them active. A good diet and exercise can prevent obesity and helpwith managing other conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure. In addition, home care providers can remind the older adult to take medications for existing health conditions.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Eden Prairie, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.