Saturday, August 05, 2017

Veterans and Dementia

Five Important Facts Veterans Need to Know about Dementia

When we think of veterans, we think of selfless, honorable, brave souls, the epitome of an American hero. These individuals sacrifice their lives to honorably serve our country. Unfortunately, some of these souls bear the burden of traumatic experiences.  Upon completion of their term, some veterans are left with permanent mental distress.

Research shows that veterans diagnosed with PTSD are twice as likely to be affected with dementia. Dementia should not be taken lightly as it a disorder of cognitive damages; symptoms may include memory problems and reasoning impairments. Activities of daily living—eating, dressing, toileting, walking, and bathing­— becomes a struggle for a large portion of the senior population with dementia. As a result, it is important for veterans to be educated on the topic. Early awareness of this condition can decrease dementia progression through the application of treatments and preventative measures.   

Here are five important facts veterans need to know about dementia

1.      Veteran Dementia Statistics

Shockingly, dementia is on the rise. It is unavoidable as the senior population is growing. This is evident as an estimated 423,000 new dementia and Alzheimer’s cases will appear within the veteran population by the end of 2020. Veterans with PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury have a higher probability of getting dementia. According to a study, veterans with PTSD had a “7-year cumulative incident dementia rate of 10.6% whereas those without had a rate of 6.6%.”

2.      Association between Traumatic Brain Injury and Dementia

Out of the predicted 423,000 new dementia and Alzheimer’s cases, one-fourth of the cases will be correlated with specific military conditions including PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. With high statistics such as this, veterans should seek checkups for optimal mental health. Head traumas are often common with veterans in combat because they face a higher risk of being struck by objects or explosions. Some of the symptoms for Traumatic Brain Injury includes behavioral changes, headaches, and memory problems. Scientists believe that head trauma goes hand in hand with dementia because it contributes to the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques. Buildup of beta-amyloid plaques exists in Alzheimer’s patients.

3.      Resources are Available-VA Benefits

Veterans are proven to be a higher risk population for dementia. Due to their vulnerability, it is of utmost importance for the veterans and their families to be educated on their resources, including the VA program known as Aid and Attendance. 69% of eligible veterans are not utilizing this program because they were not aware of its existence. This benefit is applicable to assisted living facilities and nursing homes. According to Veteranaid.org, “A veteran is eligible for up to $1,794 per month, while a surviving spouse is eligible for up to $1,153 per month. A veteran with a spouse is eligible for up to $2,127 per month and a veteran with a sick spouse is eligible for up to $1,410 per month.” Such benefits can decrease the burden on veterans and their love ones. Websites, such as Senioradvisor.com, provides an idea of assisted living costs. The median cost is $3,600 per month for a one-bedroom unit and it can rise up to a staggering cost of $7,604 per month for a private, 24-hour private room.


4.      Health Conscious Decisions will Benefit your Brain Health

Committing to a healthy lifestyle has credible benefits in dementia prevention. Some of the health-conscious decisions veterans can make includes a healthy diet and regular exercise.

What you are putting into your body contributes to your mental health. Foods such as lefty greens are high in folate, which improves cognitive function. Fruits and vegetables containing anthocyanin­—like blackberries, cherries, eggplant, red onions, and so forth—provides the brain extra protection from free radicals. Free radicals are the toxic byproducts of the human body when undergoing oxygen metabolism. Not only does food contribute to dementia prevention, seasoning and spices offer the brain some health benefits. Spices like turmeric, sage, cumin lessens the inflammation of the brain cells. Problems arise with inflammation when the brain is done using the defense mechanism function. Afterwards, inflammation just depletes the energy in the brain cells which lessens the firing of the neurons.
Regular exercise increases the blood flow to the brain.  Blood, full of nutrients and oxygen, improves mental health as the brain is feeding on such nourishment that potentially helps in the growth of the brain cells.

5.      Preventative Measures-Taking Supplements

Consumption of omega-3 and vitamin B12 & folic acid supplements can be taken as a preventative measure for dementia. Omega-3 fatty acid improves the communication of the brain cells, such cell communication is important for cognitive function. Omega-3 fatty acids are located in the cell membrane, which surrounds the cell bodies. Furthermore, studies have shown that people who suffer from dementia are deficient in vitamin B12 and folic acid. Typically, the senior population has a harder time absorbing the vitamin, so consuming it in pill form will suffice.



Resources:


http://www.military.com/benefits/veterans-health-care/traumatic-brain-injury-overview.html

Article is from Veterans Aid Organization - Jennifer Tran

Many thanks to Jennifer for this most important article. I am honored that they chose my blog to post it.

God Bless & Keep You & This Country of Ours!
joe

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