We live in a world where we always find out that things we consider safe turn out not to be. For example, some specific types of food and environmental factors are linked to an increased risk of dementia.
That being said, it’s important to remember to find factually-based information, not just someone’s opinion. So, this article explores three specific things—aspartame, mold, and shampoo—and compares their risks to the facts.
We’ll also touch on how certain senior living communities can provide valuable help and support to those taking care of a loved one dealing with dementia.
What Is Dementia?
Some people don’t realize that dementia is not a specific disease or condition. Rather, it’s an umbrella term used to describe diseases or conditions with certain symptoms in common, such as cognitive decline, inability to hold a conversation, and forgetting people.
Another thing that many people assume is that dementia is simply an age-related disease that people get as they age. And while age is a factor, it doesn’t guarantee a person will develop dementia. In some cases, a person may be a forgetful person. On the other hand, even a young person could develop dementia earlier in life. But this is typically only through severe head trauma or brain injury.
Symptoms of Dementia
It’s important to remember that these symptoms don’t necessarily mean it’s dementia, but some that suggest the possibility include:
- Struggling to remember things
- Lowered attention span
- Inability or trouble communicating
- A decline in reasoning, problem-solving, and judgment
- Getting lost in familiar surroundings
- Using strange words in reference to common things
- Forgetting names of close friends and family
- Forgetting cherished memories
Causes of Dementia
Scientists don’t know precisely what causes dementia. However, they’ve discovered many risk factors. Let’s look at a few commonly accused things and see how the facts stand up:
In an effort to fight diabetes and prevent obesity, artificial sweeteners have become very popular. Unfortunately, some evidence suggests that they aren’t good for our long-term health.
One particular study delved into the effect that artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame) can affect dementia risk factors. The study determined that people who consumed diet beverages containing artificial sweeteners were three times more likely to develop dementia.
The evidence is strong for the connection between many types of mold and respiratory illnesses. Additionally, some evidence suggests a connection between mold and dementia, and other cognitive impairments. Although, it’s important to note that there have been no conclusive epidemiological studies, only case studies, to arrive at this conclusion.
When discussing things that increase the risk of developing dementia, shampoo seems like a strange topic to discuss. But this conversation dates back several years when a chemical called methylisothiazolinone (MIT) began being added to cosmetics and other personal care products, such as shampoo.
Originally, scientists connected this to an increased risk of developing cognitive problems like dementia. But during a study done in 2010, it was determined that the tiny amount (concentrations of up to 0.01%) of MIT in these products was safe and not enough to pose a health threat.
Other Dementia Risk Factors
Besides the risk factors we discussed above, some of the common risk factors for dementia include:
- Poor diet
- Inadequate exercise
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Family history and genetics
- Head and brain injury
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Inadequate sleep
It’s important to note that there is no guarantee of preventing dementia. However, paying attention to the above risk factors enables us to live healthy lives overall.
Living With Dementia
Dementia typically advances in stages. Whether you’re the individual affected or you have a loved one who is, finding out everything you can about dementia is the best thing you can do when it’s first diagnosed. This allows preparation to begin for future care.
At first, someone with dementia may only need some minor assistance. However, as the condition progresses, the senior typically requires full-time care to accomplish necessary daily activities like eating or bathing. In these advanced stages, memory care or respite care become valuable tools.
How Fox Trail Senior Living in Chester Can Help
Living with dementia isn’t easy for the affected person or their loved ones. Often a family member or close friend are the initial caregivers for an older adult who develops dementia. No matter how dedicated the person is, there typically comes the point of exhaustion or needing a break.
This is where finding a community that specializes in providing permanent or temporary care for aging adults who’ve developed dementia can be extremely helpful. If you’re in this situation, give us a shout at Mattison Crossing. Our helpful staff is happy to answer your questions and book you a community tour.