What Is Dementia and How to Avoid It

Dementia is a condition that affects an individual’s ability to think, learn and communicate. Although our brains change as we age, dementia is not a definite part of aging. There are many things we can do to prevent or delay the onset of dementia. This article will teach you to recognize signs of dementia and tell you how to maintain your brain health.

What is Dementia?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately five million adult Americans have dementia. Dementia does not refer to a specific disease but to a general group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory and cognitive skills severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Lewy body dementia.

What are Some Signs of Dementia?

  • Poor Memory – Problems remembering recent events or things that happened in the past are common in people with dementia. You may misplace things, repeat yourself often, or find yourself relying on notes to remember things.
  • Time/Place Confusion – People with dementia frequently lose track of dates and can confuse different places. You may have problems figuring out when an event will occur in the future or be unable to remember where a place is located.
  • Difficulty Completing Usual Tasks – Dementia affects planning and problem-solving abilities, making it difficult for you to complete everyday tasks such as cooking, driving places, paying bills, or buying groceries.
  • Visuospatial Disorientation – Trouble understanding spatial relations may also occur. You may find yourself having problems judging distance or keeping your balance. You may trip over objects or spill food and drinks more often than usual.
  • Language Problems – Impaired cognitive function may affect your ability to use and understand language. You may have trouble finding the right words to express what you want to say or find it hard to follow a conversation.
  • Poor Judgement – Being unable to make sensible decisions is another sign of dementia. You may find yourself making poor financial decisions, losing interest in basic hygiene, or engaging in risky or unsafe activities.
  • Changes in Mood/Behavior – Changes in mood or behavior are common in people with dementia. For example, you may suddenly be worried or suspicious of ordinary situations or have trouble communicating your feelings.

While many of the above signs are a normal part of the aging process, you may have some form of dementia if you find them occurring frequently and getting in the way of your daily life. That said, other conditions can have similar signs and symptoms. If you suspect that you may have dementia, speak to your healthcare provider to get the necessary tests performed to correctly diagnose your condition.

How to Maintain Brain Health

As you age, some loss of memory and cognitive function is natural. But, while age, genetics, and family medical history play a role in the development of dementia, many other risk factors affect a person’s risk of developing the disease. You can delay the onset and slow the progression of dementia by making the following healthy lifestyle choices.

  • Stop Smoking – If you smoke, quit as soon as you can to protect your brain from damage that can lead to cognitive decline. Talk to your doctor about programs that can help you quit and stay smoke-free for good.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet – Consuming a balanced diet is essential to maintaining optimal brain health. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats can help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and promote healthy brain function.
  • Consider Supplements – Some studies suggest that certain supplements may reduce the risk of dementia and improve cognitive function. Choose natural supplements with proven antioxidant and neuroprotective properties.
  • Stay Active – Regular exercise can help improve your overall health and reduce symptoms associated with cognitive decline. Simple activities like walking or swimming are great ways to stay active and maintain blood and oxygen flow to your brain.
  • Get Enough Sleep – Getting a good night’s sleep is important for protecting your brain. Try to go to bed at the same time each night, limit screen time before bed, and avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed to improve sleep quality.
  • Relieve Stress – Chronic stress can negatively impact the brain and worsen memory and cognitive problems. Make time to relax and practice techniques such as meditation or deep breathing to reduce stress in your life.
  • Manage Blood PressureHigh blood pressure can lead to vascular dementia. Manage your blood pressure by losing excessive weight, eating well, exercising regularly, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and managing stress.
  • Socialize Regularly – Mental stimulation can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Stay connected with family and friends or get involved in your local community to keep your body and mind active and engaged.


Dementia is a disease that affects the mind and causes memory loss and other thinking difficulties. While it is relatively widespread, it is not an inevitable condition of aging. There are many things you can do to protect your brain and avoid dementia. By looking after your body, staying socially engaged, and keeping your mind active, you can stay sharp and independent even as you get older.