Dementia is a difficult condition to cope with, not just for the person suffering from it, but also for the people around them. Elderly folks with dementia may forget those closest to them, and their lapses in memory and judgement can drastically compromise their quality of life, and may even put them in danger. Those with dementia often require extensive and costly care, as their condition renders them increasingly unable to address their own needs.
It was once a foregone conclusion that for some, dementia was simply an inevitable part of the aging process. The Greek philosopher Plato was of the opinion that society members of advanced age were unsuited for positions of responsibility or authority because as he put it, “There is not much acumen of the mind that once carried them in their youth, those characteristics one would call judgement, imagination, power of reasoning, and memory. They see them gradually blunted by deterioration and can hardly fulfill their function.”
As people rarely lived to see their 80th birthday in Plato’s time, there weren’t many examples of dementia to study, and the attitude toward dementia remained much the same for hundreds of years; it was considered to simply be a part of growing old. It’s only in the last few decades that we’ve begun to dig deeper into dementia, and to begin to understand the mechanisms by which it takes hold.
We’re all aware that many adults make it well into their advanced years with their mental acuity relatively intact. Obviously, dementia is not an inevitable part of the natural aging process. So what causes dementia? Well, we certainly don’t have it all figured out yet, but new research has many in the scientific and medical communities excited.
Recent studies have indicated quite strongly that vitamin D deficiencies may play a strong role in causing dementia. An international team of researchers found that study participants who were severely deficient in vitamin D were more than twice as likely to develop dementia as those with high blood levels of the nutrient. Those with moderate deficiencies were 70% more likely to experience dementia-related conditions. Vitamin D is synthesized by the body when it is exposed to sunlight, and can also be obtained by eating oily fish such as mackerel or tuna, portabella mushrooms, eggs, and foods fortified with vitamin D. What if preventing dementia is as simple as eating a tuna sandwich at the park a couple of times a week? According to current research, it certainly couldn’t hurt.
[Photo Credit: Techtimes]