The Fight Against Dementia Begins in Your 40s

The Fight Against Dementia Begins in Your 40s

For decades, the common belief was that dementia sets in during one’s 70s and 80s. However, current research reveals a new reality: middle-aged individuals are facing a new frontier in health awareness, as the battle against dementia begins as early as one’s 40s. 

While memory loss is the most known indication of dementia, the Mayo Clinic highlights that it’s just one of several symptoms. Other symptoms include difficulty communicating, experiencing hallucinations, and feelings of paranoia. These symptoms are caused by the damage or loss of nerve cells. Depending on how severe the damage done to the cell is, individuals may also experience challenges with word recall as well as visual and spatial abilities. 

Sebastian Dohm-Hansen, a doctoral student at University College Cork in Ireland, underscores the accelerated changes occurring in the hippocampus—the brain region pivotal for memory consolidation—during middle age. He also highlights that when the volume of white matter connections between brain regions begins to diminish, one’s memory will be affected, setting the stage for dementia. 

In order to try and prevent dementia from occurring in one’s later life, it is crucial to prioritize heart health. While there may be no foolproof methods to prevent dementia, adopting lifestyle practices that promote both brain and heart health can help mitigate its potential effects. According to the Wall Street Journal, these practices include, “exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking, as well as trying to avoid getting or managing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and obesity and treating obstructive sleep apenea.” Although dementia may initiate its progression during midlife, it is still key to incorporate these lifestyle adjustments as early into your life as possible. 

Overall, our understanding of dementia has evolved, revealing its early onset and the need for proactive health measures. It’s now clear that we start battling dementia much earlier in life than we had originally thought; by recognizing the various symptoms and brain changes that occur in middle age, we can take steps to protect our cognitive health. Start making healthy choices now to protect your brain for the future. 

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About the Contributor
Ella Plotkin
Ella Plotkin, Staff Writer
Ella Plotkin (’27) is excited to cover stories discussing current events, entertainment and sports. In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer, lacrosse and basketball. She also likes to travel, listen to music, and spend time with friends.