What are the complications and risk factors of dementia?

What are the complications and risk factors of dementia?

What are the complications and risk factors of dementia?

What are the complications of dementia?

Dementia is also known to impact a variety of systems in the body, which impacts the patient’s ability to function normally. Dementia can, therefore, lead to:

  • Inadequate nutrition – A number of people with dementia will eventually reduce and stop their nutrient intake. They may even struggle to chew and swallow their food.
  • Pneumonia – Finding it hard to swallow will increase the patient’s risk of aspirating food into the lungs as well as choking. When food goes into the lungs, this can block their breathing ability and can result in pneumonia.
  • Inability to perform self-care tasks – Dementia, being a progressive condition, can interfere with dressing, bathing, brushing teeth or hair as well as using the bathroom and toilet independently, it can also impact the patient’s ability to take daily medications.   
  • Personal safety challenges – There are a number of daily situations that may present issues of safety for those with dementia, these include cooking, driving or even walking alone. This is due to issues with directions and memory. 
  • Death – Dementia in the later stages may result in the patient going into a coma or dying, this is often due to secondary diseases and infection.  

What are the risk factors for dementia?

There are a number of factors that may lead to dementia eventually. Some factors, like ageing, cannot be stopped. However, there are several factors that are able to be addressed to reduce the risk of developing dementia.

The following are risk factors that are unable to be avoided or changed:

  • Ageing – As someone ages, their risk of developing dementia is increased. Those over 65 are more susceptible to the condition. It is important to know that dementia should not be seen as a normal development of ageing, dementia can also occur in younger people.
  • Having a family history of dementia – When someone has a family history of the condition, their risk of developing dementia is increased. However, there are a number of people who have a family history and do not develop symptoms, and many people who do not have a family history of the condition and do develop it. There are tests available to determine whether you have a certain genetic mutation pertaining to dementia.
  • Having down syndrome – People who suffer from down syndrome, when middle-aged, may develop the early-onset of the most common form of dementia, being Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Suffering from mild-cognitive impairment – This condition involves having memory issues but not losing any daily functioning abilities. However, these memory issues give people a higher risk of dementia.

The following are risk factors that can be changed or controlled:

  • Using drugs and alcohol – Drinking large amounts of alcohol may put one at a higher risk of developing dementia, as well as the heavy intake of recreational drugs.
  • Suffering from cardiovascular issues – Having high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol or atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of fats in the walls of the arteries, can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle and medication.
  • Suffering from depression – Depression experienced later on in life may indicate that dementia is developing. However, more research is needed to be done on this theory.
  • Having diabetes – If someone is diabetic, and they do not control the condition or treat it, their risk of developing dementia is heightened.
  • Smoking – If someone is a smoker, their risk of developing vascular diseases (blood vessel diseases), as well as dementia, is increased.
  • Having sleep apnoea – Those who snore suffer from episodes of their breathing stopping frequently, this may have effects on memory loss that is reversible.
PREVIOUS What causes dementia?
NEXT How is dementia diagnosed?