PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an unfortunate reality for many people, especially veterans. When someone develops PTSD, it’s possible that it can have far-reaching consequences later in a person’s life. Several studies have linked PTSD to dementia and its related conditions.
Being equipped with this knowledge can help make retirement planning a smoother process. Knowing that there could be a higher risk of developing dementia, seeking out a community that offers memory care may be beneficial.
This way, even if your loved one develops a disease like Alzheimer’s, you can be confident they are receiving the specialized support that they need.
What Is PTSD?
During overwhelming or dangerous situations, it’s a normal reaction to feel scared and experience heightened senses and emotions; this is part of our body’s “fight or flight” response. In many circumstances, this elevated response is temporary, and most people recover from the effects quickly.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) happens when some people experience ongoing symptoms that can disrupt their daily lives for a very long time. Recurring symptoms that affect mood and cognitive function can include trouble remembering key parts of the traumatic experience, negative thoughts and distorted feelings, and losing interest in activities they once enjoyed.
Does PTSD Cause Memory Loss, Dementia, or Alzheimer’s?
It doesn’t appear to be a coincidence that the above symptoms are also common with someone dealing with dementia or a related condition. In one study, researchers found that individuals with PTSD were at a 73% increased risk of developing dementia.
Another study done with a largely male study group found that participants had a 2-fold higher risk of developing dementia. Researchers are still working to connect the dots so they can develop new ways of minimizing the impact of dementia.
Preventing Cognitive Conditions & Diseases
Unfortunately, medical research has not found a cure or a way to prevent dementia, regardless of what its causes are. But researchers have found some things that could help protect against cognitive decline.
Diet & Lifestyle
A healthy, balanced diet is important for general health and healthy aging. But evidence suggests that certain diets, such as the Mediterranean diet or MIND diet, have cognitive benefits in addition to helping to reduce blood pressure and lower the risk for cardiovascular concerns.
Maintaining an active lifestyle as one ages is also an essential part of healthy aging. Along with active living, moderating alcohol consumption and quitting smoking can be beneficial. Plus, if you’re living an active life, there’s a good chance you’re getting adequate amounts of sleep to help fight against memory loss.
Another interesting way that our lifestyle can affect our chances of developing dementia and related problems is through social connections and activities. Some observational studies indicate varying levels of reduced risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and memory loss through continued social interaction and activities.
There isn’t a black-and-white answer as to which games or activities can benefit a person’s cognitive function because so many things from our lifestyle can affect it. But some studies demonstrate improved cognitive function with games and activities. Some potential options to explore include:
- Word games, such as Sudoku, crosswords, Scrabble, word searches, or anagrams
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Dice games, such Yahtzee or Backgammon
- Card games, such as Go Fish, Uno, or Solitaire
- Board games
- Some video games
Many senior living communities include common areas and organized activities where residents can spend time with one another and take advantage of the potential benefits of games and other activities.
There are some claims that supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids or vitamins B and E can help prevent dementia. But the World Health Organization (WHO) tells us there is inadequate evidence to support these claims. Instead, their advice is to focus on a healthy, active lifestyle with a good diet.
That said, supplementing your diet with something like omega-3 isn’t a bad thing, as there are certainly health benefits to it. It’s important to discuss supplements you’d like to try with your doctor to note possible interactions with medications or treatments you may be undergoing.
Finding a Loving & Supportive Community
It can be overwhelming to choose the right memory care facility for your loved one, especially when dealing with the effects of PTSD. However, by prioritizing the quality of care your loved one will receive, you can make a positive, informed decision. There are resources and support available to help guide you through the process and feel confident that you are making the best choice for your loved one’s unique needs.
If you’re considering the Naples area for your loved one’s retirement, give us a call. Our compassionate team can answer your questions. If you’re interested, we can schedule a visit so you can explore our community and see the level of care we can provide your loved one.