Medical experts at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) recommend lifestyle habits to prevent diabetes in younger people and for those with diabetes to manage their blood sugar as a way to reduce the risk of developing dementia later in life.
Diabetes is considered a risk factor for all types of dementia; research has shown that diabetes roughly doubles the dementia risk and may cause it to develop a few years earlier.
Dementia is a term collectively used to describe a group of brain diseases that affect the functions of brain like memory, thinking ability, reasoning and planning.
The most common type amongst the group is Alzheimer’s disease commonly referred to as Alzheimer’s dementia followed by vascular dementia.
Dr Hanadi al-Hamad, National Health Strategy Lead for Healthy Ageing and medical director at Qatar Rehabilitation Institute and Rumailah Hospital says: “Too often people think about their health in later years when they start to experience health problems and many of these problems can be linked to unhealthy lifestyle habits”.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the older a person gets, the more prevalent the incidence of Type 2 diabetes becomes. This type of diabetes usually develops over a number of years and is often associated with being overweight or obese. While there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, losing weight, eating well and exercising can help people manage the disease.
Dr Biju Bhaskaran, consultant of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics at the Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI), said that research has shown that people with type 2 diabetes may have twice the risk of developing dementia compared to people without diabetes and this risk increases with the duration and severity of diabetes.
“If diabetes is not well controlled or is diagnosed very late, people with diabetes can develop a number of complications later in their life like heart disease, stroke and dementia.
“We urge adults to get periodic health checks done that will help screen for any abnormalities, such as irregular blood sugar levels. Especially older adults should have regular health checkups done to help with the early identification of potential diseases.”
The Geriatric Wellness Clinic offers people aged 60 and above easy access to a preventive medicine clinic aimed at providing integrated medical, rehabilitation and psychological care for the elderly. Located in QRI, the clinic provides important health screening and referral services for older adults and offers treatment options to patients to prevent deterioration of their health and reduce preventable hospitalisation in the future.
“An alarming number of younger people, even children, are getting type 2 diabetes in developed countries, including Qatar, which is indicative of their lifestyle. It is really important for adults to improve their health literacy so they know what they can do to maintain or improve their health ,” added Dr al-Hamad.