Lifestyle choices that could link with dementia
Nine lifestyle risk factors have been found that contribute to the development of dementia and the risks are significant for people who have learning disabilities.
It has been identified that mid-life hearing loss is responsible for 9% of the risk of developing dementia, smoking 5%, poor educational opportunities 8%, enduring or long-standing depression 4%, physical inactivity 3%, a lack of social interaction 2%, high blood pressure 2%, obesity 2% and type 2 diabetes 1%.
It is well known that many people with learning disabilities have unmet physical and mental health needs which may make them more susceptible to dementia.
Those working with people with learning disabilities in health and social care settings should be aware of the risk factors associated with dementia, and should ensure that regular health screening occurs, so the physical and mental health needs of people are addressed and monitored.
There should be a drive to ensure that people have ongoing educational opportunities to meet their developing learning needs and that leisure and social opportunities are encouraged. People with learning disabilities have the right to access the same health, educational, leisure and social opportunities as other people, moreover it may be the case that their future well-being depends on them accessing these facilities as far as possible.
Livingstone G et al (2017) Dementia, prevention, intervention and care. The Lancet. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31363-6.