DEAR Dr. Fritz,
Good day to you. Please call me Almira. My concern is about dementia. My mother has dementia. I have seen how our family struggled with her memory problems. I am a bit apprehensive about this condition. I wonder if this runs in the family, or is it a normal part of aging? Do genes have anything to do with this? So, what raises the chances of dementia?
Thanks for your response. God bless.
Almira C. of Puan
Dear Almira C. of Puan,
I understand how you feel. It is not easy to see a loved one struggle dementia. The whole family could be in pain. Oppps, sorry. But, dementia is not a normal part of aging. It doesn’t mean that because you age, you will have dementia. Remember that.
When it comes to genes, they seem to matter more in some types of dementia than others. But dementia doesn't always run in families. As a matter of fact, if your mom gets it, it doesn’t mean you will get it, too. Moreover, doctors don’t routinely get genetic testing for Alzheimer’s. So you can relax a bit here.
So, what really raises your chances of getting dementia? Here are some worth your penny...
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. In people 85 years old and older, about a third of them show signs of the disease. The genes you get from your parents could play a part at this age, but things like diet, exercise, your social life, and other illnesses could play their respective roles as well in its development.
2. Heart Disease
This is usually due to plaque buildup in the arteries around your heart, which can slow blood flow to the brain and puts one at risk for stroke. This makes it harder to think well or remember things. So to protect your heart, stay away from cigarettes, prevent if possible diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, which all can lead to dementia.
People with diabetes are more likely to have damaged blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow to the brain, and later, this can damage areas of the brain, leading to vascular dementia. So try to keep diabetes under control with medicine, exercise, and a healthy diet.
4. High Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels are linked to obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, which can all increase one’s risk of dementia as research have shown.
5. High Blood Pressure
This can increase one’s chance to get vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. High blood pressure harms the blood vessels in the brain and this can potentially lead to other conditions that may cause dementia, like stroke. So, control your blood pressure with diet and exercise -- and medication.
We are running out of space, so we’ll continue this in my next issue. Until then!
(Dr. Fritz Legarde Espedilla is an aesthetic dermatologist and surgeon and a clinical sexologist. She is also trained in hypnotherapy and Medical Acupuncture. She has been in the broadcast media for more than a decade and has written a book based on her 15 year stint with her radio program, “Healthy is Sexy Secrets ni Dr. Fritz.” She is the program host of Secrets with Dr. Fritz over Hugyaw.co . For your questions, you may send them to Dear Dr. Fritz, c/o Sunstar-Davao Publishing Inc., Ebro-Pelayo Building, Jacinto St., Davao City, (former Department of Foreign Affairs office), across Ateneo de Davao University and beside Holy Child School of Davao, or you e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t wish your letter to be published, we regret that we cannot answer them. Thank you for your understanding.)