There are number of factors that scientists believe could affect the onset of dementia. Some of these factors include age, genetics, educational attainment, diet and environment. A new study by the University College London and the University of Southampton, asserts that moderate to severe anxiety has been linked to dementia.
The study involved 30,000 participants and set out to understand whether anxiety is a precursor of dementia, or whether it is merely a risk factor. Many of the participants who were later linked to dementia had experienced severe and debilitating anxiety at least ten years before the onset. Other conditions included Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder.
Researchers analyzed data from participants who reported experiencing anxiety between the ages of 30 and 65 and found that moderate to severe anxiety was linked with the onset of dementia. Researchers expect that by 2050, the number of people affected with dementia will rise to 14 million.
As of yet, the cause of dementia remains unknown.
It is important to evaluate your loved one if they begin to experience severe symptoms of anxiety, difficulty with noisy environments, depression, loneliness or conflicts with caregivers.
Everyday activities, such as bathing or dressing, can become problematic for patients with dementia. Monitor your loved one to see if they become distressed or experience noticeable changes in behavior. See your physician for a physical examination, blood tests, urine tests, X-rays and other tests to rule out medical causes for behavioral changes.
It can be very challenging to care for a loved one with dementia. Get help for both for the individual with dementia, as well as for yourself to ensure the physical and mental health of both of you.
Keep an eye out for some of my future speaking engagements where I provide useful advice for caring for loved ones with dementia and assisting caregivers improve their methods. Also, make sure you check out other resources, such as my book, A Loving Approach to Dementia Care.