8 Warning Signs of Dementia

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien posing for photos at Cannes, France, in 2015.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien, hailed as 'Taiwan's Greatest Filmmaker,' has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, casting a spotlight on the pressing issue of dementia and its impact on individuals and society. (Image: Featureflash via Dreamstime)

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien, hailed by The New York Times as “Taiwan’s Greatest Filmmaker,” received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 Golden Horse Awards. Recently, his family confirmed that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This personal revelation brings to light a crucial global concern — dementia.

Effective strategies to prevent dementia

The heart-wrenching Hollywood film Still Alice portrays the decline of a brilliant female professor due to dementia, highlighting the importance of preventative measures. Medical experts suggest six highly effective methods to prevent dementia:

1. Maintain social interaction

Engaging in social activities like community events, charitable organizations, friend gatherings, volunteering, and playing games like chess or cards can stimulate brain function.

2. Cultivate interests

Participate in courses, make time for regular reading, painting, gardening, or playing Mahjong. Planning travel can also expose you to new knowledge and experiences.

3. Regular exercise

Maintaining an exercise routine of two to three times a week with activities like walking, hiking, dancing, swimming, or Tai Chi is especially beneficial for older adults due to their gentle nature and lower intensity.

A smiling elderly couple practice Tai Chi together in the park.
Tai Chi is a form of exercise that is beneficial for older adults due to its gentle nature and low intensity. (Image: Aekkarak Thongjiew via Dreamstime)

4. Control the ‘three highs’

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar increase the risk of dementia. Patients with these conditions should seek treatment and consistently manage their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels to reduce their risk. Even those already diagnosed with dementia can slow its progression through this management.

5. Dietary intake

Studies show that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and Alzheimer’s disease. This diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and includes beans, nuts, and fish (rich in omega-3 fatty acids).

6. Prevent head injuries

Individuals who have suffered severe head trauma have a significantly higher risk of developing dementia. Always wear a helmet while cycling or riding a motorcycle to minimize the risk of injury. Avoiding falls is also crucial as they can worsen dementia.

Head injuries can lead to dementia.
Always wear a helmet while cycling to minimize the risk of injury. (Image: Piksel via Dreamstime)

Self-assessment: 8 early warning signs of dementia

Dementia is not only a common cause of disability in the elderly but can also affect younger adults. It’s heart-wrenching when our loved ones begin to forget themselves or those they cherish.

Doctors note that while dementia cannot be cured, its onset can be prevented and the duration of mild dementia extended. The following eight early warning signs can be used for self-assessment:

  1. Gradual loss of memory?
  2. Decreased interest in activities and hobbies?
  3. Difficulty in judgment and problem-solving?
  4. Repeatedly asking the same questions?
  5. Difficulty learning to use simple tools or devices?
  6. Forgetting correct dates and times for appointments and gatherings?
  7. Trouble managing complex financial tasks?
  8. Sudden changes in mood, temperament, or personality?

Translated by Elaine

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