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Risk Factors for Dementia

Dementia refers to a group of symptoms that affect memory, thinking, and social skills severely enough to interfere with daily functioning.  It is not a specific disease, but a group of symptoms caused by various diseases and conditions.  No one test can determine if an individual has dementia.  Dementia does not have a cure, and no treatment can totally halt its progression. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80-percent of cases.  Vascular dementia, previously known as post-stroke dementia, is the second most common type of dementia, accounting for 10-percent of cases.

The 10 risk factors for dementia are…

1.  Advancing Age

The primary risk factor for developing dementia is advancing age.  The risk of dementia greatly increases after the age of 65.  The Alzheimer’s Association reports the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s dementia doubles every 5-years after the age of 65.  The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates as many as 5-million Americans age 65 and older may have Alzheimer’s dementia.  As a result, the number of Americans living with dementia could double in the next 40-years as the number of Americans age 65 and older increases from 40-million today to greater than 88-million in the year 2050.

After the age of 85, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia reaches nearly 50-percent.  Despite these staggering numbers, the commonly held belief that dementia is a normal part of aging is erroneous.  Dementia is not a normal part of aging, and some individuals may experience dementia at a relatively young age.

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