Dementia is a very scary topic. Whether it is your own mind or a loved one, losing one’s memory can be difficult to handle. Unfortunately, there are no cures, and traditional medicine is not as effective as we would hope.
Memory loss can be confusing. Even when I was in neurology residency training, it was not straightforward. What is dementia vs Alzheimer’s vs aging? Even as a practicing neurologist, it can get complicated. So, it is understandable that someone without medical knowledge would have a very difficult time figuring this out. But we’re here to help.
We hope to better inform you about what dementia is, how to lower your risk, and how to try to maintain your current level if not improve it. Dementia is a broad category that includes multiple different types of dementia – Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s Dementia, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, etc.
Have you or a loved one ever walked into a room and forgotten why you went in there? Have you or a loved one ever forgotten where you left your keys or wallet/purse? Have you or a loved one ever left the stove on after cooking? Have you or a loved one ever left the front door open all night? Have you or a loved one ever forgotten acquaintances’ or even friends’ names? Have you or a loved one ever knew what you wanted to say but couldn’t find the right words? Have you or a loved one ever had a change in personality or other behavioral changes? If you said yes to any of these questions, then you are at risk for developing dementia. Dementia typically has a constellation of symptoms that can involve not only memory but also visual-spatial skills, reasoning, personality, etc. If you are reading this, I am assuming you either have some of these symptoms already, know someone who does, or want to do everything you can to avoid it.
All of my patients who come to see me for memory loss always get the following lecture. At the core of memory loss/dementia prevention, you need to remember three key categories to lower your risk – education level, body/mind health, and brain activity.
Education level is simply that – what grade did you complete. You have a lower risk of developing dementia if you went further in school. Stay in school kids! Now for those of you who have already completed formal education, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this category anymore, so focus on the remaining two.
The second category has to do with keeping your body and mind healthy, which then lowers your dementia risk. This includes diet, exercise, making sure all of your medical problems are well controlled, and mental health. Poorly controlled diabetes or high blood pressure increase your risk of brain injury. Each injury diminishes everyone’s cognitive reserve, eventually leading the way to memory problems. It is very important to make sure your electrolytes and nutrients are maximized for optimal brain functioning.
In addition, mental health is often overlooked. It has an immense role in cognitive function. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, your mind simply does not function properly. Therefore, this second category includes treating your mental health, whether it’s seeing a mental health professional such as psychiatry and psychology, participating in yoga, meditating daily, or utilizing iv ketamine.
Lastly, brain activity lowers your risk of dementia as well. I like to think of the brain as any other muscle. If you don’t exercise it, your brain will shrink and wither away. You need to exercise it in multiple different ways, which may include memory flash cards, crossword puzzles, reading, learning new skills, etc. You want to stimulate different areas of the brain and not just focus on one thing.
If you focus on these three categories, you are doing everything in your power to lower your risk of developing memory loss or dementia and helping to maintain or even improve your current state. Most research falls into one of these categories.
A few things to consider trying that may help include: regular exercise, reducing stress, treating depression and anxiety, drinking fruit or veggie juices, learning a new language, going to a comedy show, eating a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet, quit smoking or don’t start, avoid illicit drugs, avoid heavy alcohol use, try meditating, improve your sleep quality, supplement your diet with IV vitamins and nutrients, or consider IV ketamine for refractory depression.
RevIVe Wellness in Skokie, IL can help with much of the above. Our IV ketamine can help refractory depression when traditional medicine falls short. Our IV hydration can help restore fluid and electrolyte balance for many conditions and situations. Our Weight Optimization can help provide a plan for healthy weight management and exercise to provide a quick boost and keep the weight off. And our Functional Medicine can help pull everything together providing a framework that ties the above together for overall wellness. If you’re seeing the signs of dementia, or have symptoms of depression, please make sure you get the help you need. Take time for yourself, and for each other.