Changes in an individual's walking, chewing, sleeping and how they feel
can be early indications of dementia. Dementia is the ongoing loss of
cognitive skills due to brain cells being destroyed. Symptoms include
memory loss, changes in personality, personal hygiene neglect and
trouble socializing. The most common cause is Alzheimer's, but a stroke,
Parkinson's, substance abuse, severe head injuries or other health
related conditions can also trigger dementia.
Long before the obvious symptoms appear, behavior changes can be a sign that one has it.
According to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,
biting an apple can determine one's odds of getting dementia. In
Sweden, researchers studied 577 people who were 77 or older. They
discovered that the ones who found it difficult to chew had a higher
risk of dementia. It could be that, as people age and lose teeth, it's
more difficult to chew. Chewing less will lower the flow of blood to the
brain, increasing the chances of mental decline.
style of walking can signal dementia. This was presented in a 2012
report at the Alzheimer's International Conference. Many studies showed a
correlation between abnormal walking styles and signs of mental decline
during neuropsychological tests. One study analyzed how 19 elderly
subjects walked at home. Individuals with a slower pace also had less
One's sleep cycle can lead to mental decline. Annals of Neurology
published a study in December 2011 where they studied 1,300 women over
75 for five years. By the end of five years, 39 percent of these
otherwise healthy women had developed mild dementia.
The research showed that one's weak circadian rhythms caused an 80
percent higher chance of developing dementias. These were people who
were less active in the early hours of the day.
weight is linked to heart disease, type two diabetes and arthritis. A
neurology study from May 2011 proved a connection between high BMI and
increased dementia risk. Studying 8,534 twins aged 65 or higher, 350
definitely had dementia, while 114 faced the possibility. When their BMI
from 30 years earlier was noted, researchers found that those with
dementia or the risk of it were 70 percent more likely to have had
One's emotions can affect brain health. The Archives of General Psychiatry (now JAMA Psychiatry)
published a study that followed 13,000 people in California for six
years. The risk of Alzheimer's doubled in those with late-life
depression. The risk tripled in individuals who also had mid-life
As with any disease, one must eat
healthy, sleep well and stay upbeat. Knowing the early signs of dementia
can help one understand the risk of mental decline in themselves and
loved ones. Behavioral changes should not be overlooked.