Sleep Apnea And Dementia- Increased Risk

sleep apnea and dementia

We recently found a study conducted by Monash University that found a connection between sleep apnea and dementia.

Thus, we wanted to look further into it.

To present you with a BETTER understanding of how the two conditions can affect each other.

Does Sleep Apnea Contribute To Dementia?

Led by the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health’s Dr. Melinda Jackson, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published the study about the correlation between sleep apnea and dementia.

The findings showed that severe OSA causes an increase in beta-amyloid, which is a protein that accumulates on the walls of the brain’s arteries.

In turn, it INCREASES the risk of dementia.

34 individuals, who had recently been diagnosed with OSA, participated in the study.

12 of them were asymptomatic, meaning that they didn’t display ANY SIGNS that they were suffering from a sleep disorder.

The study used PET brain scans and measurements of mood, sleep, and demographics to explore the associations the brain’s amyloid had on an individual’s health.

The group with OSA recorded higher amyloid burdens and poorer sleep patterns.

Dr. Jackson explained that the discovery would help further research into treatment options for OSA aimed at reducing the risk of dementia.

Yet another study published in 2011 in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the link between sleep apnea and dementia is even greater in older women.

298 women, who were an average of 82 years old, had tests done to assess their cognitive function.

The overnight sleep tests monitored aspects like their heart rate, brain activity, respiration, and blood oxygen levels.

The women went through further cognitive tests five years later, and out of the lot, 105 were established to have sleep apnea.

Out of the group with the disorder, 45% suffered from dementia or mild cognitive impairments.

The LACK of steady oxygen flow to the brain stemming from sleep apnea was determined as the precursor to dementia.

Treating Sleep Apnea and Dementia

treating sleep apnea
It is possible to avoid having sleep apnea and dementia problems, by treating the sleep disorder in the first place.

Treatment is prescribed to address the underlying health problems that cause the condition in different individuals.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a therapy commonly used to treat sleep apnea.

It involves wearing a mask and keeping the airway open during sleep by gently delivering a constant stream of pressurized air.

It is not a viable choice for everyone because some people find it DIFFICULT to use the mask, and therefore, they explore alternative options.

Surgery to remove enlarged tonsils, or shrink or remove excess tissue is another viable option.

Lifestyle changes are highly recommended before exploring any other options.

This includes ADOPTING a heart-healthy diet, sleeping on your side, maintaining healthy sleep habits, managing weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking.

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Final Thoughts on Sleep Apnea and Dementia

Several studies have proven that there is a potential link between sleep apnea and dementia.

A combination of mechanisms brought about by the disorder can lead to dementia and other cognitive impairments.

However, it is possible to halt the process of developing dementia as a result of OSA by treating sleep apnea as soon as it is diagnosed.

Bonus: What Is Sleep Apnea?

what is sleep apnea
Most people who suffer from the condition have a form that is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which manifests when a physical blockage obstructs the upper airway.

In fact, estimates have it that about 1 billion people globally suffer from OSA.

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is equally as common, and it signals an underlying issue with the nervous system.

Some people experience mixed sleep apnea which is a combination of OSA and CSA.

A person momentarily stops breathing, for about 10 seconds or more, when the signal instructing the process is held up or if their airway closes.

When the breathing restores, they might take a deep breath, snort, or get roused from their sleep feeling like choking, gasping, or being smothered.

If untreated, sleep apnea can become a gateway to other complications including depression or even heart disease.

It also increases the risk of accidents because a person who suffers from the disorder often feels drowsy during the day leaving them prone to making risky mistakes while working or driving.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

what causes sleep apnea
Several factors contribute to the risk factor of developing sleep apnea in adults including:

  • Obesity
  • Hereditary traits including a round head, thick neck, and narrow throat
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Allergies
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Use of sedatives

Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea

how is sleep apnea diagnosed
An individual who has sleep apnea rarely knows it or can self-diagnose, and often it takes another person to notice the symptoms.

The signs include:

  • Momentary lapses in breathing followed by noisy breath
  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping for air

Some of the symptoms that the person who has the disorder might notice themselves include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia or restless sleep
  • Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Waking up from sleep severally to go to the bathroom

However, the only way to conclusively diagnose the condition is through a physical examination.

A physician will access an individual’s complete medical history to figure out whether they have struggled with symptoms like snoring or daytime sleepiness for a considerable period.

The doctor also EXAMINES the person’s neck and head looking for the presence of any physical factors associated with the condition.

The process often involves filling a questionnaire to establish a person’s sleep patterns, the quality of sleep they get, and if they struggle with daytime drowsiness.

Tests like polysomnograms, EEG, Pulse Oximetry, EKG, and Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) may also be used to diagnose sleep apnea.

Sugar And Dementia (Makes It Worse?)

sugar and dementia

We reviewed numerous studies that suggest a possible link between sugar and dementia.

This is after researchers confirmed that consuming TOO much sugar in any form puts a person at a higher risk of getting dementia.

One longitudinal study exposed the fact that persons with high levels of blood sugar experience faster cognitive decline rates than the ones with normal blood sugar levels.

Another study by Melissa Schilling reveals that elevated insulin plays a huge role in the development of dementia.

Seeing that too much sugar is one of the RISK factors of dementia, which still has no cure, to date, it is important to keenly study the relationship between the two to find out how both factors reconcile.

Below you will uncover some of the ways that consuming too much sugar can increase the risk of developing dementia EVEN at a young age.

Poor Insulin Control

poor insulin control
When your body always has to deal with insulin resistance, it means that you will be at a higher risk of developing dementia.

Note that when you eat different types of food, including sugar, starches, and carbohydrates, the body breaks them down into glucose.

When the digestion process takes place, the small intestines and the stomach absorb all the glucose and then sends it into your bloodstream.

Insulin, which is a hormone that the pancreas produces, transports the sugar/glucose in the bloodstream to the cells in your muscles and other organs.

Your body will produce MORE insulin when the levels of blood sugar are too high. This implies that insulin will, essentially, try to give the cells more sugar.

When this happens, the cells are bound to try and protect themselves from insulin’s powerful effect, thus creating insulin resistance.

The pancreas then responds to this resistance by giving the body even more insulin. This creates a vicious cycle where insulin resistance results in higher blood sugar levels.

Where there is an insulin spike, too much glucose will find its way to the brain through the bloodstream. This will eventually DESTROY the cells in the brain, a move that can lead to the development of dementia.

An Overdose of Glucose in Brain Cells

an overdose of glucose in brain cells
The brain needs glucose as a source of energy.

However, when there is too much sugar in the brain, the cells in this organ can easily absorb the glucose.

It is worth noting that brain cells, unlike other cells in the body, do not require insulin to absorb glucose. This means that the cells in the brain will DIRECTLY absorb the glucose from the bloodstream because sugar usually crosses the barrier in the brain fast.

When too much sugar is flowing in the brain, it will NOT PRODUCE useful mental energy. This is because the brain can only convert sugar into energy with the help of insulin.

After a long period of consuming simple carbohydrates and sugar, the brain will have an overflow of sugar that is not beneficial in any way.

In fact, when talking about sugar and dementia, it is safe to say that a high insulin load will prevent the brain from using glucose as a source of energy because it will have excess levels.

When the brain cells do not get the energy they need from glucose, they eventually die off one of the events that lead to the onset of dementia.

The sad fact is that brain cells get too much sugar but CANNOT make good use of it.

Too Much Sugar Clogs the Brain and Causes Inflammation

too much sugar clogs the brain and causes inflammation
Another front that shows evidence of the link between sugar and dementia is the fact that obese individuals have a doubled risk of developing dementia.

Most people will become overweight because of a poor diet that mostly consists of too much sugar.

As a result, this causes clumps in the brain that affect how it functions. To better understand this concept, it is essential to know that obese persons typically have TOO MANY amyloid proteins in the brain.

These proteins are toxic to the brain because they stick together and start forming clumps. These clumps are usually present in the brains of people who have different forms of dementia.

In the medical world, there is still a huge debate as to whether the clumps that amyloid proteins form are responsible for dementia even though they are generally present in persons who already have dementia.

Experts also believe that HIGH sugar amounts in the body can cause inflammation.

Inflammation has been LINKED to dementia, diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. Inflammation inside the body is akin to a swollen red, infection on the skin that is full of puss.

When there is inflammation in the brain or other parts of the body, the body has to get into a position where it is always fighting infections.

When this happens, it will lead to cognition breaking down because the brain, as well as the blood vessels, are irritated and swollen.

Eating Sugar Leads to Addiction

eating sugar leads to addiction
Experts have established that excess sugar in the brain can impair both cognitive skills as well as self-control. Many people experience cravings after consuming a little sugar.

Sugar is known to have a drug-like effect on the brain’s reward center. Scientists propose that sweet, salty, and fatty foods can produce addiction effects in the brain.

This results in overeating, loss of self-control, and CONSEQUENTLY weight gain.

This drive, on the other hand, can lead to excess amounts of sugar in the brain, which is a dementia risk factor.

Too much sugar in the brain is harmful as it can result in deficits in attention, memory, and slow cognitive function.

Too much Sugar Leads to Strokes

too-much sugar leads to strokes
Another possible variable when discussing sugar and dementia is the fact that too much glucose in the blood vessels can lead to stroke.

This is because a spike in blood sugar can cause the vessels to become weak. Meaning, they will not function as they should leading to strokes, which can make a person get various dementia forms.

In such a case, the brain cells will die because they lack oxygen.

How to Reduce Adverse Effects of Sugar and Dementia

how to reduce adverse effects of sugar and dementia
It is almost IMPOSSIBLE to cut off sugar in your diet, seeing that most fruits are loaded with sugar. This, however, does not mean that you should not try and limit the amount of sugar that goes into your system.

There are several steps you can take to prevent getting dementia because of too much sugar like:

Balancing blood sugar

balancing blood sugar
This has everything to do with the things that you put into your mouth.

Avoid those high-fat and sugar diets because they will only lead you into trouble. Take off the unhealthy stuff that includes alcohol, refined carbs, caffeine, dairy, processed foods, etc.

Instead, your diet should constitute healthy alternatives like leafy green vegetables, nuts, good fats, and grass-fed meats, among many others.

These foods are not only great for your waistline, but they will also make the brain very happy.

If you are NOT TOO sure about the foods to be eating, it is best to work with a dietician who will give you proper guidance.

Remember that sugars present in soft drinks and sweets can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels. The ones from complex carbs are absorbed in a slower rate.


Another way to tame blood sugar is to get physically active. This helps to reduce blood sugar levels and weight if need be.

If you have not been working out for long, try and schedule at least 150 minutes of exercise every week.

You DO NOT have to go into a gym or start working with an expensive professional trainer.

Brisk walking for a few minutes every day can do the trick. Take short but frequent breaks as you walk. This can be as short as forty seconds or one minute.

This can help to lower blood sugar effectively.

Some experts also advise taking a walk after meals. Exercising can also mean taking the stairs more than using the lift, parking a little further from your destination, and moving around if you sit around for hours.

When you are more active, your muscles will increase their glucose intake, which will prevent instances of insulin resistance.

Get enough rest and avoid stress

get enough rest and avoid stress
Giving the body enough rest is crucial if you want to protect the health of your brain. This includes getting quality sleep and listening to your body when it needs to rest.

Additionally, it is also important to avoid stress triggers because they are not good for your health.

Do things that you love and enjoy and talk to a trustworthy person if you feel like things are getting out of hand to keep stress at bay.

Sugar and Dementia Conclusion

It is now evident that there is a connection between sugar and dementia.

Experts agree that faster cognitive decline happens when there are high sugar levels in the blood, whether the sugar levels make a person diabetic or not.

It is one of the reasons why you should control sugar consumption while ADOPTING a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of dementia and other diseases.

Depression And Alzheimer’s Disease (Common?)

depression and alzheimers disease

We reviewed and studied the possible connection between depression and Alzheimer’s disease with out team of experts.

Almost HALF of the population with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) will experience depression symptoms at some point.

Depression is a condition that causes people to feel irritable, sad, or hopeless most of the time. This can occur during any stage of the disease and most of the time, it makes symptoms of AD more severe.

For instance, depression can make an ill person experience more confusion, anxiety, and forgetfulness.

Experts agree that depression plays a significant role in disease progression, disability, and caregiver burden.

Some people will showcase depressive signs during the early stage, while others will have these in the middle or later stages of Alzheimer’s.

In some cases, depression may COME AND GO while in others, it stays for long periods.

Below we look at more in-depth details of depression and Alzheimer’s, including possible causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Causes of Depression in Persons with Alzheimer’s

causes of depression and Alzheimer's disease
It is not easy to pinpoint the exact cause of depression in a person who has AD.

However, there are a few factors that might lead to depression like:

  • After hearing the diagnosis, a person may fall into depression during the early stages of the illness.
  • Losing independence as the illness progresses can also be the cause of depression.
  • Side effects of certain medications can also result in depressive symptoms.
  • Social isolation and fatigue might also cause depression.
  • Feeling stressed or worried about issues like the future, relationships, and money.
  • Physical illness.
  • Having a genetic predisposition to depression.

Symptoms of Depression in People with Alzheimer’s Disease

symptoms of depression in people with alzheimers disease
Depression affects individuals in different degrees and ways. Medics usually talk of severe, moderate, and mild dementia.

Diagnosing depression in a person who has AD can be challenging.

This is because the symptoms of depression and Alzheimer’s tend to overlap.

Examples of common signs for both include:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Apathy
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and other activities a person previously enjoyed
  • Impaired thinking
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of low self-esteem
  • Pains and aches that seem to have no physical cause

Worth noting is that cognitive impairment that people with Alzheimer’s experience typically makes it CHALLENGING for them to articulate guilt, sadness, hopelessness, and other feelings that come with depression.

Other signs that are common with depression include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Lack of energy
  • Not wanting to be around others
  • Crying all the time
  • Feeling worthless
  • Being irritable and agitated most of the time
  • Having thoughts of suicide or death repeatedly

Diagnosing Depression in Alzheimer’s Disease

diagnosing depression in individuals with AD
Experts have not yet come up with a single questionnaire or test that medics can use to diagnose depression in persons who have Alzheimer’s disease.

Medical professionals must conduct a thorough evaluation, particularly because there are medical conditions and side effects of medicines that can produce comparable symptoms.

It is essential to diagnose depression in persons with AD because it can respond positively to treatment.

Evaluation for depression usually includes:

1. Mental and physical examinations
2. Review of a person’s medical history
3. Interviews with relatives who know the individual well

It may be helpful to consult a geriatric psychiatrist to handle the evaluation because of the complexities that are involved in the entire process.

The professionals specialize in identifying and also treating depression in older adults.

Treatment Options for Depression in Alzheimer’s

treatment options of depression and Alzheimer's
When it comes to treating depression and Alzheimer’s, the timing of the condition will determine the most appropriate treatment option.

There are two main approaches for treating depression, and these are using medications, therapies, and non-drug approaches.

Use of Medications

use of medications
A doctor may prescribe antidepressants to treat severe or persistent depression in persons with AD.

These can include drugs like SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and others that can help to ease sadness and lift moods.

Some people with Alzheimer’s may also be put on mood-stabilizing medicine or specific antipsychotic drugs to help treat depression.

A person must be cautious when taking these medications because some may not be helpful for somebody with Alzheimer’s.

This is particularly in cases of mild depression.

Another reason is that chemicals in the brain that cause depression are usually different for persons with Alzheimer’s.

Additionally, the cause of distress for some people may be something that medicine can’t fix, such as social withdrawal.

Depression mediation might also cause problems like dizziness, falls, and confusion amongst other side effects. It is usually advisable to try other treatment options before taking the medicine route.

Because every person with AD is unique, they might need to try different drugs under a doctor’s instructions to identify the ones that will work and present fewer side effects.

At times, one person may need to consult several doctors before determining what works for them.


therapies to help with depression and Alzheimer's Disease
A person with depression and Alzheimer’s can try different therapies to try and get rid of depression. This mostly works for individuals with moderate depression.

Examples of helpful therapies include:


This is where an individual works closely with a professional psychiatrist or psychologist to come up with an effective solution to the depression problem.

These are professionals who specialize in treating mental health.

Talking therapy

These are therapies that encourage suffering people to talk about how they feel.

Professionals base this on the model of how the human mind works. Psychotherapists, counselors, and other experts can conduct the sessions so that that participant can get the desired results.

Studies show that after several sessions of talking therapy, depression reduces in persons who have Alzheimer’s.

Various forms of talking therapies exist, including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), interpersonal therapy, and counseling as well.

Some medics may also recommend transcranial magnetic stimulation or electroconvulsive therapy as part of treatment. These are brain stimulation techniques that can help a person with AD.

A GP can also suggest other therapies that they feel will be helpful to the individual with AD.

These therapies typically need to be modified to suit a person’s level of memory, understanding, and communication.

It is usually best to work with therapists who have experience working with persons who have dementia.

Non-Drug Approach

non drug approach
There are several options that people with Alzheimer’s and depression can try if not on medication to treat depression such as:

1. Exercise

Getting physically active can also help reduce depression symptoms significantly. This also helps a person to stay fit which ultimately improves their health.

Make sure that the individual only takes part in ENJOYABLE physical activities depending on their ability so that working out does not stress them out.

If a person has more energy in the morning, program exercise activities at this time.

2. Counseling and support groups

Professional counseling and being part of helpful support groups can also help to take care of depression in people with AD.

This is usually helpful for mild depression that lifts by itself after some time.

3. Being around other people

It is important for people with depression and Alzheimer’s not to spend all their time alone because they will sink further into depression.

Participating in enjoyable group activities with loved ones or even other people in similar conditions can decrease depression symptoms.

4. Routines

A reassuring routine can reduce the negative effects of depression.

It helps to schedule predictable routines that take advantage of a person’s best time of the day to undertake activities they may find challenging like taking a bath.

5. Interaction

One-on-one interactions with other people may also help. This includes hand-holding, conversations, and gentle massage when appropriate.

6. Living environment modifications

Modifications to the affected person’s living environment are also advisable. This is where changes like reducing loud noises and bright lights can help create more comfortable and soothing living spaces.

Some people may not be comfortable in areas that have too many people.

7. Familiar places and activities

Coming up with a list of places, activities, and people that the ill individual enjoys and scheduling them more frequently can also help treat dementia.

8. Positive vibes

Caregivers and other people around the person with depression need to emit positive vibes at all times. Remember to celebrate small occasions and successes as this helps everyone to feel better; thus, fight depression.

Spark happiness in them.

Nurture the affected person with inspirational or soothing activities or their favorite foods.

Caregivers also need to reassure the person, letting them know that they appreciate, love, and respect them as a valuable member of the family or society.

Depressed persons also need to know that they will not be abandoned. Furthermore, people should also have realistic expectations when dealing with individuals with the illness.

Expecting too much can upset all parties.

Caregivers need to look after themselves, too

Caregivers of persons with depression and Alzheimer’s should also remember to take care of themselves.

Looking after persons with AD is usually not easy.

If caregivers do not indulge in self-care, they risk experiencing too many frustrations and other negative feelings to a point where they will not be in the right frame of mind to care for the individual.

Taking adequate breaks and seeking help when feeling overwhelmed are some of the steps caregivers can take so that they do not become worn out.

Depression and Alzheimer’s Closing Remarks

It is common for people with Alzheimer’s to experience depression often. This is not something to ignore and wish away.

Proper diagnosis needs to be carried out so that the treatment of depression and Alzheimer’s can start as soon as possible.

Early treatment often leads to a better quality of life for persons with AD, and it also makes life more enjoyable and easier for caregivers and other people around the person with Alzheimer’s.

If you found value in this article, you may also enjoy reading our article on ‘What is Peusododementia?’ 

14 Effects Of Dementia On A Person [Mental & Physical]

effects of dementia

The effects of dementia on a person go from mild to severe, depending on the stage of the disease. Also, they may vary from person to person.

In other words, not all experience the same impact of dementia on their mental and physical state.

Since we are continuously doing researches and studies, you can later come back to this article and find new effects that we will add.

As a caregiver, family member or relative, it is crucial to understand the main and most common effects of dementia.

This way, you will easier recognize the disease and seek help from a doctor. Not to mention, if a person with dementia experiences rapid mood swings, you know it is not you who is the source of the circumstance.

While this might be HARD to comprehend, you need to develop a thick skin when you are around a person with dementia.

Let the effects of the disease have no impact on you.

Typical Effects Of Dementia On A Person

1. Poor nutrition

mental and physical effects of dementia
A person with dementia suffers from different emotional and physical symptoms. These can include severe loss of appetite or the loss of willingness to ingest meals.

As a normal person without any mental incapacity, it is already typical for everyone to skip a meal when experiencing constipation or toothaches.

Thus, imagine what a person with dementia who is constantly suffering from emotional and physical pain goes through and the (poor) nutrition they consequently get from these sufferings.

Additionally, another cause of poor nutrition may be traced to communication problems such that a person affected with dementia may have difficulty indicating his hunger.

Another factor could also be the lack of appetite due to frequent changes in medication. This can also cause (rapid) weight loss in patients with dementia.

2. Aggressiveness

If a person is in pain, it is normal that their behavior or mood may suddenly change without their awareness.

Aggression is another effect of dementia that may be seen in a person suffering from this kind of mental incapacity.

There are two major factors why can a person with dementia act or show aggression.

1. First is a physical abnormality.

The stress caused by physical changes to the body can affect his or her inhibitions and make them less aware of what kind of behavior is appropriate.

They may also have less tolerance for environmental changes since the surroundings may be too busy or overwhelming.

Temperature intolerance is also another reason for aggression. It is a fact that these physical changes may lead to another factor – psychological abnormality.

2. Psychological abnormality is the second factor. With this, the person affected may feel disrespected.

For example, a person may feel that he is being prevented from doing things he ought to do.

3. Reduced hygiene

reduced hygiene
It is quite normal for people with dementia to forget or neglect personal hygiene, dressing and grooming.

They may skip basic activities such as:

1. Bathing, as fear of water can sometimes be a problem.

The person may not be able to gauge the depth or temperature of the water and will be frightened to step into it.

2. Changing clothes, as changing clothes is essential for hygiene and personal freshness.

However, a person with dementia might just skip changing clothes, keep wearing the same old ones.

Thus, they might need a bit of encouragement removing dirty clothes at the end of the day and putting on clean ones the next.

Being a person who loses interest in life inevitably loses his interest in cleaning himself regularly as well.

4. Anxiety

Dementia is both a mental and a physical torture where one’s psychological well-being could really get affected.

Once affected, it causes one’s brain to be overly stressed, thus, making a person emotionally and mentally weak.

Accordingly, this is how a person with dementia develops anxiety.

He or she will start to be frightened of everything. According to the video presentation, a person with anxiety caused by dementia will be extremely withdrawn from a crowd.

It is because a crowd makes them suffocated and anxious.

An anxiety attack can be distinguished when one is experiencing heart palpitations.

Anxiety also activates a natural stress response which causes the body to increase perspiration or sweating.

Additionally, one can also experience shortness of breath during an anxiety attack.

5. Sleep disorder

sleep disorder
A person suffering from dementia is also experiencing problems in sleeping. It is because their memory seemingly becomes worse after a bad night.

However, according to studies, sleep disorders usually afflict a person in the later stage of dementia.

As the disease progresses, the damage to a person’s brain becomes more extensive and he or she gradually becomes weaker and frailer over time.

This one may be the least experienced effect of dementia but it is still essential to know how dementia affects one’s sleeping patterns.

If you see a loved one oversleeping all throughout the night or spending their time sleeping all day time and even finds themselves sleepy regularly, such circumstances may indicate that a person’s condition is getting worse.

6. Depression

When a person is suffering from dementia, his or her common response with regard to their usual routines is having uncontrollable mood swings.

Sometimes, the person becomes extremely jolly or too fearful.

Their inability to complete simple daily tasks at home, work or in school leads to multiple frustrations, and a buildup of demotivation and mental breakdowns.

These instances unconsciously lead a person to develop depression and anxiety.

Depression is the most prominent mental health problem of a person with dementia.

In some cases, symptoms of depression are often confused with the early stages of dementia but both of which are actually related to one another.

7. Communication challenges

communication challenges
Dementia makes it difficult for a person to speak or to communicate, and this can be upsetting. This is another effect of dementia that can make a person frustrated.

You might hear persons affected using filler words most of the time when trying to express themselves.

It is because they are having trouble finding the right words/sentences on how they can describe what they feel, what they want to eat, or even what they want to do.

Besides, a person with dementia may repeat words or phrases and stutter every time they try to communicate with other people.

We all need to communicate regarding our needs, wishes, and feelings. Losing the ability to communicate effectively negatively changes the quality of our life.

8. Repetitiveness

According to Enomwoyi Damali, living with her mother who has dementia has taken some time adjusting to. Her mother usually asks her the same things over and over again a hundred times.

In the latter part of this mental illness, this effect of dementia occurs and becomes cognizable.

The cause of repetitiveness is the feeling of being anxious and frightened as well as seeking comfort, security, and reassurance.

A person affected with dementia may also have trouble understanding what’s going around him or her because of memory incapacity, hesitations, loss of feeling for a time and even boredom.

Always try to remember that the person is not difficult on purpose as this effect could be more frustrating to them more than what you feel every time you listen to him or her.

9. Trouble adapting to the environment

trouble adapting to the environment
A sudden change in surroundings could really make a person hard to adapt.

This is an impact of dementia wherein a person does not enjoy changes as much as what he or she was used to.

Small changes could incite negative emotions in the person who is suffering from dementia, and changes from the environment can also result in confusion and feelings of being frightened frequently.

A constant change in one’s environment can also result in anxiety attacks.

A person who is having a hard time concentrating, thinking, and expressing one’s emotions might not accept or totally reject adaptation to the environment.

10. Irritability and mood swings

irritability and mood swings
In the mid and especially late stages, a person who has dementia may begin to lose control of his impulses.

This is the most alarming effect of dementia, which may lead to hurting another person emotionally.

A person who has dementia may even say tactless things, like “Gosh, you look old!”, which they would never say before.

In the later stage, more aggressive acts often seem to come out of nowhere, including cursing, arguing, shouting, and even threatening.

As dementia gets worse, the person loses tolerance for a lot of things and situations which makes his or her mood change constantly.

11. Stressed family relationship

stressed family relationship
Engaging with a person suffering from dementia in the house can be quite stressful, not only to the one in charge but also to the one taking care of the person with this mental illness.

A person with this kind of brain incapacity requires a lot of attention, understanding, and patience.

It could also be so tiring doing the routine regularly. This engagement could cause a domino effect with other family members.

Recognition could be a problem as well and should already be expected, as the person affected may not recognize anyone of the family members when things get worse.

A person may only remember their parents; or in the worst-case scenario, no one.

12. Demotivation

If one is sad, he is most likely to feel sluggish and lazy for a short time.

If one is depressed, he or she is unable to get the strength to be motivated which may persist for months – even years.

For a person diagnosed with dementia, it is twice as worse.

An individual who is dealing with the effects of dementia often loses the eagerness to fight it or looking at life with a positive outlook.

Now that his mental capability slowly weakens, his reason for living and fighting for the people whom he used to know and care for dies.

Anxiety and depression are two of the common reasons why a person especially suffering from dementia can be demotivated.

These certain groups of people need tons of genuine moral, financial, and emotional support from family members friends to make them feel secured, well-attended, loved and respected.

And that no matter what happens, there is always a reason to look forward to another day even if they do not remember how to anymore.

13. Trouble learning new things

trouble learning new things
If your loved one is diagnosed with dementia (predominately any type), one of the effects is trouble/difficulty learning new things and solving problems.

It becomes very evident that even if you repeat them what to do several times, not only do they not show interest in it, they are struggling, too.

Offer a helping hand and together solve the task.

The last thing you would want to do is to start screaming and yelling at them.

Unfortunately, this is part of the progression of dementia. Instead, you should introduce all sorts of different dementia activities which will help keep their brain active.

Said that, keep them engaged in various exercises as often as possible for as long as possible. This will slow down the process of dementia, worsening their well-being.

14. Unable to concentrate

effects of dementia- unable to concentrate
Unfortunately, with the progression of dementia, a patient will eventually have a hard time concentrating and focusing. Their attention span will decrease drastically, too.

In some instances, the slightest distraction can put them off, almost forgetting what they were doing just seconds ago.

As a caregiver, family member or friend, in these situations, patients matter most. One thing you must absolutely not do is to argue with the person.

It is an unpleasant effect of dementia that we cannot avoid but alleviate.

With different exercises, like opposite cards and other fun memory activities, you can contribute to the lack of their concentration, aiming to boost the attention span.

Most importantly, always keep calm.

Aluminum and Alzheimer’s Disease (Cause?)

aluminum and alzheimer's disease

we continue to explore the link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s when examining the causes and risk factors of the progressive disease.

Note: Aluminum (Al) is one of the elements that are in abundance in the world.

It occurs naturally in water and food.

The element is also widely in use by multiple industries as well as products that people use daily. These include cosmetics, cookware, cans, and medication, etc.

Some studies suggest that this chemical element associates with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). There are two main reasons this may be the case:

1. A considerable percentage of people with AD have been found to have HIGHER LEVELS of aluminum in the cerebrospinal fluid, serum, and brain.

2. Al bioaccumulates in cells, which results in bringing changes that are associated with loss of atrophy and function consistent with MRI findings in Alzheimer’s patient’s brains.

These factors led researchers to believe that elevated Al levels may either play a role in the development of the progressive disease or have a hand with its progression.

The idea was introduced in 1965 when researchers conducted a study with rabbits.

They found that the animals developed poisonous tau tangles in the brain after they were injected with high levels of aluminum.

This is another observation that led experts to believe that the chemical element plays a role in the development or worsening of Alzheimer’s disease.

The results of the injections were only positive after exposure to EXTREMELY high levels of the element. Note that this far exceeds the standards present in food or aluminum cookware that get into the human body.

How people consume aluminum?

Ever since the study, researchers have been trying to figure out if it is true that aluminum is one of the elements that causes Alzheimer’s.

Currently, only a couple of studies show a link between the illness and aluminum.

The others, which are a majority, conclude that there is nothing to worry about when it comes to Al and Alzheimer’s.

A couple of scenarios play out when looking for evidence on the same. There are different ways people consume aluminum.

Drinking Water

drinking water
Different meta-analyses studied the association between aluminum levels in the water people drink and the risk of dementia.

The results were inconclusive. One particular study involved around four thousand seniors in France.

It concluded that taking water with excess aluminum by just 0.1 mg a day increased the risk of Alzheimer’s three times.

The studies also reveal that other elements present in drinking water, such as iron, copper, zinc, or fluoride, might also affect cognitive function.

Drinking Tea

drinking tea
Surprisingly, tea is one of the few plants whose leaves have a huge trace of aluminum. This element typically seeps into the brewed beverage.

Even so, there is still no evidence that Alzheimer’s is more prevalent in cultures that drink a lot of tea.


Some medications, specifically antacids and anti-ulcerative, usually have high aluminum levels.

A majority of antacids have about 35-208 mg per dose and it is higher for anti-ulcerative at 35-1450 mg per dose.

This is because aluminum hydroxide reduces acidity in the stomach.

Luckily, there are some aluminum-free options available, like Tums and Rolaids. Multiple studies, however, report that taking antacids regularly has nothing to do with Alzheimer’s disease.

More investigations are needed to give a true reflection of the relationship between the risk of Alzheimer’s and the use of antacids.

Use of Aluminum Pots and Pans

use of aluminum pots and pans
Many people fear that when they use aluminum cookware, beverage cans, foil, and other products, they will be exposed to harmful levels of the element.

The use of aluminum pans and pots contributes to a tiny percentage of the average intake of aluminum in human beings.

Realistically, it is also difficult to reduce exposure to aluminum significantly by avoiding aluminum kitchen products.

Use of Antiperspirants

use of antiperspirants
Another subject that needs to be studied more when it comes to the correlation between aluminum and Alzheimer’s is antiperspirant usage.

These contain aluminum salts that dissolve into the surface of the skin to form a barrier with the sweat ducts temporarily.

This stops sweat from flowing to the skin’s surface.

To date, there is still no study that pinpoints Alzheimer’s risk to the use of antiperspirants that have aluminum.

However, some show a link between breast cancer and the use of antiperspirants.

Multiple studies report that the body does not easily absorb aluminum salts in antiperspirant products. If some of the element gets in, the kidneys readily flush this out.

Conflicting Findings

conflicting findings
When talking about aluminum and Alzheimer’s, years of research has brought forth a lot of conflicting information.

Some of the findings support the notion that excessive aluminum can be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, while others dispute this heavily.

Examples of some of the conclusions published include:

1. A few studies suggest that people who have Alzheimer’s disease have increased levels of aluminum in the brain. Other studies state this is not the case.

2. Some studies have found that there is a higher risk of people with occupational exposure to get dementia.

Understanding the Role of Aluminum in Alzheimer’s disease

understanding the role of aluminum in alzheimer's disease
Several environmental factors like diabetes, aging, drinking alcohol, smoking, trauma, and ischemia, etc. pose as risks of Alzheimer’s disease.

Al, on the other hand, may not play a significant role when it comes to cognitive decline and AD.

Nevertheless, the element might contribute to faster cognitive decline, especially in the older population, whether a person has Alzheimer’s or not.

More studies, however, need to be conducted to support this hypothesis.

Experts also acknowledge that it is challenging to study the effects of Al because the element is practically everywhere. A little dust may end up contaminating a sample compromising the results of a study.

The fact that aluminum is a pervasive element on earth implies it is hard to pinpoint the duration, dosage, and frequency of individual-level exposure.

Consequently, establishing, and cause and effect linkage between aluminum and Alzheimer’s is COMPLEX.

Why Aluminum May Be an Alzheimer’s disease Risk Factor

why aluminum may be an alzheimer's disease risk factor
As much as most studies show that AL has little to do with Alzheimer’s, some studies state otherwise.

An example of such is one led by Dr. Walter Lukiw a neuroscientist and professor of Ophthalmology, Neurology, and Neuroscience.

Together with other researchers, Dr. Lukiw’s team summarized several factors that link AD to aluminum, such as:

1. Al promotes beta-amyloid plaques in the brain at the same levels as those that are present in humans.

2. Aluminum enhances the brain inflammation by increasing nuclear factor kappa beta, a pro-inflammatory molecule. The molecule is usually present in the brains of persons who have Alzheimer’s disease.

3. The element increases brain gene messenger RNA molecules similar to those that become multiplied with AD.

4. Out of the many AD drug treatments tested to date, the use of aluminum chelator is so far one of the most effective therapeutic solutions yet.

5. Adding aluminum to the diets of animals who have Alzheimer’s causes more brain changes that are associated with the progressive disease. These include deficits in gene expression, cell death, and oxidative stress.

6. Some studies show that people who drink water with too much Al are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

7. Aluminum tends to be the cause of similar cellular energy deficits that are related to AD. These include impaired signaling involving the use of energy and ATP.

A few factors bar further research into these findings

For starters, researchers claim that it is difficult to find funding when they want to pursue angles that deal with aluminum and Alzheimer’s.

This is because most people believe that this is just a myth that does not deserve too much research.

Additionally, experts also have a problem getting the research done “properly.” A researcher cannot test whether Al causes Alzheimer’s disease in humans directly.

This is because there is no ethical manner of giving humans huge doses of the element.

It means that scientists are left to rely on scientific investigative methods to determine the role of aluminum in the development or progression of AD.

One of the alternatives to this is animal studies:

1. The studies that counter this evidence usually support their claims by stating three important points.

Sufficient amounts of Bioavailable Al cannot enter the brain and cause damage.

2. Accumulation of aluminum in neurons is considered a consequence instead of a cause of neural loss, which is typical of AD.

3. Healthy kidneys efficiently excrete excess aluminum from the body.

Aluminum and Alzheimer’s Closing Thoughts

As seen above, there is still no persuasive or reliable evidence associating aluminum and Alzheimer’s.

Although some studies associate Alzheimer’s risk with aluminum, many state that there is no association between the two.

This may be because the study that triggered this entire debate was typically focused on a single animal (rabbit) that may be susceptible to aluminum poisoning.

Perhaps, if other types of animals are studied, the results will give us clearer answers.

It is, nonetheless, important to limit exposure to the element to be on the safe side based on the inconclusive findings on this topic.

Social Isolation and Dementia

social isolation and dementia

We are looking at the connection between social isolation and dementia risk for many years.

Social isolation especially in seniors is considered one of the public health risks that affect many people.

It puts them at RISK for dementia and other severe medical conditions.

The NASEM (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) released a report stating that almost a fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered socially isolated.

Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Dementia

Many elderly people are at an increased risk of social isolation because of various factors like:

  • Living alone
  • Loss of family and friends
  • Hearing loss
  • Chronic illness
  • Lack of interests in social activities they once enjoyed

Studies Looking into Social Isolation and Dementia Risk

studies looking into social isolation and dementia risk
Several studies have shown that there is a connection between increased dementia risk and social isolation.

An example of this was a behavioral rodent study that was conducted in Belgium.

The research team discovered that mice that were in isolation for four weeks during adolescence ended up with a specific dementia-like phenotype.

It compromised both cognitive and non-cognitive domains when compared to the animals that were socially housed.

The mice also displayed a lifelong impairment in a memory task.

A cohort study on the “Association of social isolation, loneliness, and genetic risk with the incidence of dementia: UK Biobank” also concluded that socially isolated persons are at risk of dementia at all levels of genetic risk.

This was after observing 144,074 men and women with a mean age of 64.1 from the UK Biobank study.

The participants were recruited between 2006-2010.

8.6% of the participants reported that they were socially isolated. During a follow-up, 0.9% of the participants were diagnosed with dementia.

Social isolation was the MAIN culprit associated with increased dementia risk.

Loniless biggest risk for Alzheimer’s?

On the flip side, a new study from the Netherlands reported that “feeling lonely” and not “being alone” might be considered a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. One of the most common causes of dementia.

This study was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. For the study, researchers observed 2,173 seniors aged between 65-86.

At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had dementia.

The professionals assessed the participants’ degree of isolation including whether they lived alone or lacked a partner, spouse, or network of friends alongside how lonely they reported they felt.

About half of the participants lived alone, and 1 in 5 reported feeling lonely.

The participants also underwent thinking and memory tests to look for signs of severe memory loss and incipient AD (Alzheimer’s disease).

After controlling factors like concurrent medical issues like cardiovascular disease or depression and socioeconomic status, researchers found that the participants who felt lonely were more likely to develop dementia.

The ones who were socially ISOLATED but did not feel lonely were not at increased risk of developing dementia.

The researchers stated that there needs to be a better understanding of why individuals feel lonely as this may help them identify vulnerable persons to come up with interventions that will IMPROVE the outcome in seniors who are at risk of dementia.

Can Social Activity Buffer Against Decline?

can social activity buffer against decline
When discussing social isolation and dementia risk, we find it important to pinpoint some of the things that can help reduce the risk.

For one, MAINTAINING HIGH-QUALITY relationships is key to protecting brain health from the negative effects of isolation.

Studies show that seniors who feel more satisfied with their relationships have a 23% lower dementia risk.

Older adults who feel that their relationships are supportive have a 55% lower risk of developing dementia compared to the ones who feel unsupported or dissatisfied in their relationships.

Maintaining social activities can also buffer against the decline in thinking abilities even for people who live alone or are experiencing signs of beta-amyloid accumulation in the brain.

One of the reasons this happens is that if a person is cultivating and maintaining strong social ties, it can help them cope better with stress.

Individuals who feel better able to cope with challenges or bounce back after stressful events normally show less tau protein build-up in the brain.

What Action can a Person Experiencing Social Isolation Take?

what action can a person experiencing social isolation take
When experiencing social isolation, an individual should consult a doctor.
The physician can assess an individual’s risk of social isolation and if needed connect the affected individual to community resources for assistance.

National Organizations like Area Agencies on Aging, National Council on Aging, Eldercare Locator, and AARP can also be helpful.

Other strategies that may help fight social isolation include:

1. Friends

Reaching out to friends and family even if it is just a phone call or text.

Dr. Miller states that making contact with someone can improve well-being and it should be part of an individual’s daily routine.

2. Joining a club

Affected individuals should look for clubs that interest them such as book clubs, collectors’ clubs, or jazz clubs, etc.

Volunteering at an organization they support can also help.

3. Adopting a pet

Persons who can mentally and physically care for pets should get them as they make wonderful companions who offer numerous physical and emotional benefits.

Closing Thoughts

Human beings are generally social in nature and high-quality social relationships can help people live healthier and longer lives.

There is growing evidence that there is a link between social isolation and dementia risk.

While more studies need to be conducted on this subject, it is something that people need to take seriously in a bid to reduce the number of people who end up developing dementia in old age.

Bonus: What is Social Isolation

what is social isolation
Social isolation is the lack of social connection. We can also describe it as an objective measure of solitude that may or may not be distressing.

Although it is not easy to precisely measure social isolation, there is evidence that older adults who are isolated socially put their health at risk.

In line with this, some recent studies uncovered that:

  • Social isolation was associated with almost 50% increase in developing dementia.
  • Social isolation increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes significantly. This is a risk that may rival those of obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking.
  • Poor social relationships characterized by social isolation were linked to increased link in heart disease and stroke (29% and 32% respectively).
  • Seniors who are socially isolated record increased emergency room and physician visits.

Social isolation among older adults also leads to poor performances on tests of thinking abilities. Especially in situations when an individual is required to process information fast.

Stress and Dementia (Is There a Link?)

stress and dementia

When looking into the causes of dementia, we wondered many times whether there is a connection between stress and dementia risk.

News usually reports that there is a link between the two.

Below we discuss what stress is, WHY stress is linked to dementia, the EFFECTS of stress on the brain, STUDIES on the link between dementia and stress, and some of the ways to REDUCE stress.

Reasons Stress is Linked to Dementia

There are several logical reasons why there is a connection between stress and dementia.

For one, stress is known to affect a person’s IMMUNE SYSTEM which plays a major role in dementia development.

reasons stress is linked to dementia

When a person is going through stress, the body releases a hormone known as cortisol.

This has been linked to issues with memory.

Stress is also CLOSELY linked to conditions like anxiety and depression. These have been documented as factors that can increase the risk of dementia.

Effects of Stress on the Brain

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public health presented a study explaining how stressful life events can age the brain about 1.5 years.

They also clarified that some stressful experiences may lead to the development of different kinds of dementia later on in life. This was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London.

Researchers assessed data from 1,320 participants who took part in cognitive tests and shared details about their stressful life events. The professionals discovered that each stressful event was equal to one and a half years of brain aging.

The statistics were different for African-Americans because a single stressful event was equal to four years of brain aging.

Although the link between dementia and stress needs more investigation, professionals believe that stress can lead to inflammation in the brain making the organ more susceptible to HEALTH ISSUES like dementia.

Stress can also cause depression which is another risk factor for dementia.

Stressful experiences

Examples of stressful experiences that are linked to damaging the brain include but are not limited to:

  • Being suspended or expelled from school
  • Getting fired from a job
  • A cheating partner
  • Financial problems
  • Death of a loved one
  • Dropping out of school
  • Legal difficulties
  • Being jobless
  • Assault

Research on the Link Between Stress and Dementia

research on the link between stress and dementia
While there have been numerous studies looking into the relationship between dementia and stress, there is no general agreement on what the exact link is.

One of the main reasons for this is that it is challenging for researchers to conclusively investigate stress.

This is because different people have different reactions to stressful situations.

It is also hard to quantify how stressed an individual is.

Other factors that are hard to separate may also come into play.

For instance, the role of lack of sleep, depression, and anxiety all of which have been associated with an INCREASED risk of dementia.

The complications explain why it may be challenging to carry out extensive research on the role that stress has in the risk of dementia.

Despite this, professionals still work hard to try and explain the connection between increased dementia risk and stress.

Below are some of the studies that have been conducted on the relationship between stress and dementia.


New research reported that PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a potential risk factor for dementia development.

PTSD is normally caused by childhood trauma, being a victim of abuse or violence, and traumatic experiences like war.

The study was the first to attempt to quantify the risk of developing dementia associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The team thoroughly searched around 8,000 papers to identify existing studies across the globe. Focusing on different populations examining the relationship between future dementia risk and PTSD.

Data collected from different studies indicated that PTDS was associated with increased dementia risk.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

The researchers concluded that post-traumatic stress disorder was a strong but modifiable risk factor for the progressive illness.

To identify if there is a potential link between stress and dementia, researchers from the University of Southampton in the UK in 2021 started a 3-year study. Investigating the effects of chronic stress on individuals with MCI (mild cognitive impairment) and a control group of 70 people over 50 years without any memory problems.

All the participants were assessed for STRESS LEVELS as well as any progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia.

After years of following up, taking into consideration numerous factors, the study suggested that objective psychological stress is one of the risk factors for cognitive decline.

Stress, women and dementia

Another study also reported that midlife stress may increase the risk of developing dementia. Researchers came to this conclusion after conducting a study of 800 women living in Sweden.

The professionals followed the ladies for almost 4 decades.

Even though the study did not include men, the results suggested that stress may have long-term detrimental effects on everyone.

The researchers examined the long-term cognitive and medical health of the ladies.

The women underwent regular health assessments every 5-10 years including searching for symptoms of memory loss of Alzheimer’s and other dementia types.

When the study began the ladies were asked whether they had experienced MAJOR STRESSES like illness of a family member, divorce, or death of a child or spouse, and other sources of stress.

About 25% of the ladies had experienced a major life stressful experience. 23% had gone through two stressful events, 20% had experienced at least 3, while 16% had gone through 4 or more stressful experiences.

Around 1 in 5 women developed dementia during the follow-up period.

The ladies that reported the most stressful experiences in middle age were at 21% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in old age.

15% also recorded a higher risk of developing other dementia types.

The authors acknowledged that more studies need to be done to confirm the results.

Tips for Reducing Stress

tips for reducing stress
Seeing that there may be a connection between stress and dementia, it may be helpful to try and avoid or reduce stress as it may reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Some of the steps that people can take to help reduce stressful events include:

  • Identifying sources of stress and avoiding them
  • Addressing stress triggers and accepting help with the situations. People should aim to look for something positive even in the most difficult situations
  • Knowing limits and establishing boundaries
  • Changing stressful environments to an alternative that is quiet and relaxing
  • Identify relaxing techniques to adapt when feeling overwhelmed or stressed. This can be anything from meditation, yoga, exercising, journaling, listening to music, gardening, or watching TV, etc.
  • Talking to someone you trust about current feelings. It can be a friend, relative, or professional counselor
  • Take breaks as needed to help conserve energy
  • Letting things that are out of control go
  • Social engagement like joining a club (See our group activity recommendations)
  • Getting a pet
  • Sleep well
  • Eat healthy food
  • Take part in brain-stimulating activities like playing games

Stress and Dementia Closing Thoughts

Even though evidence points to a strong relationship between stress and dementia risk, more research needs to be done on this topic.

More conclusive results can help professionals come up with effective ways of preventing, managing, or treating dementia.

Bonus: What is Stress?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) describes stress as how the body and brain respond to any demand.

This can be any kind of challenges such as performance at school/work, traumatic event, or a significant life change. Symptoms of stress include sweating, pounding heart, and tense muscles amongst others.

These warning signs are supposed to disappear as soon as the danger passes, but some individuals experience stressed feelings for longer periods.

This can result in chronic or prolonged stress that can be severe and have serious effects on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional being.

Understanding Poor Balance and Dementia

balance and dementia

We found it essential to understand the connection between poor balance and dementia when carrying for grandparents.

As a consequence, we combined our experience with studies to bring you this EXTENSIVE OVERVIEW of balance loss in dementia.

Persons living with dementia normally experience poor balance at several stages.

Some people will start losing balance when walking or standing before other dementia symptoms start to develop. This may be an indication that the individual is at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Understanding Balance Loss in Dementia (+ Tips)

Researchers from the University of California conducted a study that identified a strong correlation between the risk of dementia and poor balance. They used 2 types of physical performance tests: the 13-foot walking test and the standing balance test.

The professionals discovered that poor balance recorded the strongest association with dementia incidences.

It can also be a sign that an individual is already suffering from another type of dementia.

A person may exhibit loss of balance differently depending on the type of dementia they have.

For instance, for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), loss of balance is TYPICALLY a sign of the late stages of the illness.

When seniors are experiencing poor balance and they are not showcasing memory loss or any other early dementia warning signs, vascular dementia may cause poor balance.

Causes of Poor Balance for Individuals with Dementia

causes of poor balance for individuals with dementia
Individuals experience poor balance and dementia for a variety of reasons and some of them are:

Damaged Brain Vessels

If an individual has vascular dementia, it means that damaged blood vessels are blocking or reducing the flow of blood to the brain. This can cause problems with balance, movement, and weakness on one side of the body.

This is mostly because the illness NEGATIVELY affects the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling body movements.

It is located close to the back base of the skull. Because dementia is a progressive illness, the symptoms only get worse over time.

Alzheimer’s disease

AD is another reason people will experience poor balance. This normally happens in the later stages of the illness.

As the brain cells continue to deteriorate, neural communication in the body also becomes worse. This causes people with Alzheimer’s to have challenges seeing, walking, and processing information about the physical environment.

All this ends up affecting a person’s balance.

A majority of people will start changing how they walk as they START shuffling their feet rather than lifting them with each step.

This makes it very hard to walk, a loss of balance, and falls also become more likely.


Many drugs that seniors take cause light-headedness or dizziness which can increase the risks of falls.

These can include medications prescribed for blood pressure or the ones that individuals take to relieve other symptoms they may have.

Consulting a doctor may help confirm whether the medications a person is taking are causing loss of balance.

The professional will then CHANGE the drugs to options with less or no interactions.

Note: Hearing aids and cochlear implants that are rooted inside the ear could also be the cause of dizziness and vertigo which may explain why a person has balance issues.

Identifying Balance Problems

identifying balance problems
Several signs may be an indication that a person had poor balance such as:

  • Walking unsteadily
  • Bumping into things
  • Shuffling of feet instead of lifting them
  • Stooped posture
  • Turning through small steps instead of pivoting on heels

Dealing with Poor Balance and Dementia

When a person with dementia is experiencing issues with balance, there are a few tips they can work with to help cope with the changes.

Early Detection

early detection of balance issue in dementia
An early dementia diagnosis may help LIMIT the severity and impact of poor balance.

It is, therefore, important for anyone who suspects having any type of dementia to consult a doctor as soon as possible.

This increases the chance of catching the illness early.

Home Improvements

If the person with dementia is experiencing poor balance and is still leaving at home, it may be important to make some adjustments at home to create a more secure environment.

These include the installation of walk-in-baths/ showers or wet rooms to make bathing easier and safer.

Installation of anti-slip floors, handrails, seats, and low threshold entry points can also help.

Try and ENSURE that the home is easy to navigate as this reduces accidents while ensuring affected persons retain their independence.

By creating a dementia-friendly home, you may be able to leave someone with dementia home alone for longer.

Working Out

working out to alleviate poor balance in dementia
If a person is able; it helps to engage in exercises like leg lifts, Tai Chi or riding a stationary bike.

Exercises are important for people with poor balance and dementia because it not only increases flexibility but it also enhances memory and lowers anxiety.

Low-impact workouts can also help strengthen leg muscles, improve balance, and maintain bone density.

Mobility Aids

The use of mobility aids like walkers and canes can help people with dementia maintain balance and become more comfortable when walking or standing.

Remember to talk to a physical therapist or doctor before getting any mobility aid so that the experts can GUIDE YOU on the most effective aid to purchase.

Balance and Dementia Closing Thoughts

Caring for a person with dementia means that the caregiver at some point may have to deal with poor balance and dementia.

It is important to understand what causes balance issues and come up with effective ways of dealing with the problem.

This way, the person with the progressive illness gets to lead a more COMFORTABLE LIFE and reduces the risk of falls, pain and other accidents.

At What Stage Of Dementia Does Sundowning Occur?

at what stage of dementia does sundowning occur

We get many questions asking at what stage of dementia does sundowning occur? Unfortunately, it is a syndrome unavoidable for many.

Sundowning MOSTLY AFFECTS people with middle-stage or advanced dementia.

Individuals living with dementia may start to exhibit changes in behavior in the evening hours as the sun starts to set.

This type of behavior change is referred to as sundowning.

Generally, sundowning can be described as a GROUP of SYMPTOMS that may include confusion, agitation, irritability, and restlessness.

Affected persons will typically start to experience these symptoms around dinner time.

It can continue into the night.

Cause Of Sundowning

cause of sundowning
The cause of sundowning is not yet clear.

Researchers, however, believe that it is a result of a disruption in circadian rhythms which is the human natural body clock.

Circadian rhythms signal a person when it is time to sleep at night and when it is time to wake up in the morning.

If there is a disruption in this rhythm, it can be FRUSTRATING and IRRITATING which can make an individual act out through changed behavior.

Several factors may contribute to sundowning and these may include:

  • End-of-day exhaustion (both physical and mental)
  • Reduced lighting which can result in increased shadows causing persons with dementia to misinterpret things they see. This can make an individual feel more afraid and confused.
  • Disorientation when a person cannot separate dreams from reality when they are sleeping.
  • Less need to sleep
  • Lots of noise
  • Loss of routine
  • Prescription medication wearing off

Coping Strategies

If a person with dementia is experiencing sundowning, there are a couple of coping mechanisms they can use to help MAKE the situation better.

Keeping the Living Space Well-Lit

Adequate lighting especially in the evening can help reduce agitation which occurs when surroundings are unfamiliar or dark.

Maintain a Schedule

At what stage of dementia does sundowning occur?
People with dementia tend to do better when adhering to regular routines.

It is, therefore, important for caregivers to encourage affected individuals to maintain regular routines of sleeping, waking up, and meals.

Creating a Safe and Comfortable Sleeping Environment

An individual’s sleeping area should be as comfortable as possible.

This should include ensuring the bedroom has comfortable temperatures.

To INCREASE safety, caregivers can offer nightlights and make sure that window and door locks are secure.

Motion detectors and door sensors can alert loved ones when a person with dementia is wandering.

Plan Active Days

Persons with dementia who rest most of their days will have trouble falling asleep at night.

Discourage afternoon napping and instead schedule meaningful activities that affected individuals will ENJOY.

Where possible, include regular exercise and bathing in the early afternoon or morning so that the person can have a restful night.

Consult a Doctor

consult a doctor
At times, persons with dementia may have to seek professional assistance to help with sundowning.

The professional may help to identify the cause of sleep problems and come up with appropriate solutions.

Many physicians will encourage the use of non-drug measures instead of medicines. There are many alternative therapies that can contribute.

Closing Thoughts

Research indicates that sundowning often occurs during the middle or late stages of dementia for those wondering at what stage of dementia sundowning occurs.

Caregivers should be well-equipped to deal with the new developments by applying coping mechanisms to make persons with dementia deal well with sundowning.

Gut Health and Dementia (Improve It Now!)

gut health and dementia

For years, we have been looking into the connection between gut health and dementia.

This is in a bid to identify factors that CAN HELP reduce the risk of developing the progressive neurodegenerative disease.

Dementia is not an individual disease but a general term for loss of language, memory, problem-solving, and other thinking abilities that interferes with an individual’s day-to-day life.

Gut health, on the other hand, refers to a range of functions that the digestive system is responsible for.

This INCLUDES digestion, absorption of nutrients, production of hormones, and keeping a stable amount of bacteria, etc.

It has been proven both clinically and theoretically that poor gut health is one of the major causes of Alzheimer’s as well as neurodegeneration.

Connection between the Brain and Gut

connection between the brain and gut
Before digging deeper into the relationship between gut health and dementia, it interesting to learn about the gut-brain connection.

Almost everyone has had butterflies in their stomach or gut feelings.

The sensations that come from the belly suggest that the gut and brain HAVE a CONNECTION.

These two organs are connected both biochemically and physically in several ways.

The gut-brain axis refers to the communication system between the gut and the brain.

Other similarities the organs have include:

Presence of Neurons

presence of neurons
Neurons are cells that are primarily found in the nervous system and the brain that instruct the body on how to behave.

The human brain has approximately 100 billion neurons.

Surprisingly, the gut has 500 million neurons that are connected to the brain THROUGH NERVES located in the nervous system.

The vagus nerve is one of the biggest nerves in the body that connects the brain and the gut. It sends signals in both directions.

A human study found that individuals with Crohn’s disease or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) also experienced reduced vagal tone. Meaning that a person has reduced function of the vagus nerve.

Another mice study discovered that feeding the animals probiotics reduced the stress hormone amount in their blood.

However, after cutting the vagus nerve, probiotics did not have any effect.

It goes to show that the vagus nerve IS CRUCIAL in the gut-brain axis as well as its role in stress.


The brain and the gut are also connected through neurotransmitters chemicals. The brain produces these to control emotions and feelings.

Fascinatingly, gut cells also produce many neurotransmitters.

Research indicates that the gut produces a huge portion of serotonin a neurotransmitter that controls the body clocks and contributes to feelings of happiness.

The Immune System

The immune system also connects the gut-brain axis. Gut and gut microbes play an ESSENTIAL ROLE in the immune system as well as inflammation.

This is though controlling what is passed into the body and the things that are excreted.

If the immune system stays switched on for too long, it can result in inflammation which is linked to various brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

Certain bacterial make LPS (lipopolysaccharide) an inflammatory toxin that can cause inflammation when a lot of it passes to the blood from the gut.

It mostly happens when the gut barrier is LEAKY allowing LPS and bacteria to cross into the blood.

High LPS and inflammation are associated with brain disorders like dementia, schizophrenia, and severe depression.


Although the brain does not have any microbes, the trillions of microbes that live in the gut make chemicals that affect how the brain functions.

Gut microbes produce tons of SCFA (short-chain fatty acids) that affect how the brain works, for instance, reducing appetite.

This is because they produce SCFA by digesting fiber.

Experts agree that a healthy diet alongside lifestyle factors plays a major role in decreasing dementia risk by about a third.


Some professionals as a way of finding out how this is possible opted to study the gut microbiome. Which are the trillions of microorganisms that live in the human digestive tract.

Researchers discovered that certain changes in these bacteria are linked to several autoimmune and inflammatory conditions like diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Scientists also revealed that some kinds of microbiome bacteria can promote the build-up of tau and amyloid proteins. These proteins are linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) one of the most common causes of dementia.

Mouse studies confirmed that dietary changes can alter the microbiome which can lower inflammation, reduce amyloid plaques and in turn enhance memory.


There is also research suggesting that an individual’s ability to metabolize specific lipids can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Lipids can be described as fat-like substances found in the body tissues and blood that make up most of the human brain.

Senior Director of Medical and Scientific Operations at Alzheimer’s Association Heather Snyder said that if a person’s body has challenges moving around lipids, it may end up impacting the structure and function of the brain.

Let’s look at some of the studies that have been conducted regarding the connection between gut health and dementia and their implications.

Studies Supporting the Connection between Gut Health and Dementia

studies supporting the connection between gut health and dementia
Several studies have been conducted to reveal the relationship between various types of dementia and gut health.

Below we look at some of the research that has been making headlines in the dementia world.

1. Impact of Lipids

Two studies sought to discover the impact of lipids on the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. One of the studies was carried out at the University of California.

The researchers studied 800 seniors some with full-blown Alzheimer’s, others with mild cognitive impairment, and others healthy.

They discovered that the participants with Alzheimer’s also had numerous issues with lipid metabolism like having a hard time absorbing the lipids that contain DHA and EPA.

Researchers tried to give this group of people fish oil supplements, but this action did not bring the lipids back to normal.

The other study was conducted by researchers from Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania.

They discovered that LOW levels of various lipids and plasmalogens are linked to a HIGHER RISK of Alzheimer’s.

Both studies seem to indicate that when the human body does not produce certain lipids, it will also impact what is going on in the brain.

2. Can Gut Bacteria Help in Dementia Diagnosis and Treatment

Researchers in Japan conducted a study to determine whether, in the future, gut bacterial may help in diagnosing dementia and perhaps even treatment.

The team of scientists was led by Dr. Naoki Saji from National Centre for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Japan. The researchers recruited 128 participants from a memory clinic.

All the participants underwent cognitive ability assessment and the professionals also used MRI to scan their brains. Some people had dementia while others did not.

To look for differences between the two groups, the scientists analyzed stool samples. The researchers found several differences.

For example, feces collected from people with dementia recorded higher levels of phenol, ammonia, skatole, and indole. The group also had major changes in the levels of some gut bacteria.

Even though this was a small study, the authors concluded that gut microbiota is a strong and independent dementia risk factor.

More research needs to be conducted on this angle to determine the link between gut health and dementia.

Foods that can Help Improve Gut Health and Dementia

foods that can help improve gut health
Maintaining gut health may be instrumental in preserving brain health.

Certain food groups are beneficial for the gut-brain axis and some of them include:

Fermented Foods

Cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir contain HEALTHY microbes that can alter brain activity.

Omega-3 fats

Studies in animals and humans show that omega-3s that are mostly found in oily fish increase good bacteria in the gut and can reduce the risk of brain disorders.

Polyphenol-Rich Foods

Green tea, cocoa, coffee, and olive oil are some of the foods that have high levels of polyphenols.

These are plant chemicals that increase healthy gut bacteria and can also enhance cognition.

Foods Rich in Fibre

Examples of these include nuts, whole grains, fruits, seeds, and vegetables that contain prebiotic fibres good for gut bacteria.

Prebiotics are also known to reduce stress hormones.

Implications of the Studies

implications of the studies
While the research looking into the relationship between gut health and dementia is still in its early stages, it may be a game-changer when it comes to developing better diagnostic tests for dementia in the future.

It may also offer professionals a better perspective on why some people will experience fast progression over a year while others will go through a slow progression over 15 years.

Additionally, people are advised to take care of their gut health. This will not only make them feel better but can also avoid different types of dementia and neurodegenerative diseases according to Dr. Floyd Minana D.C.

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