We can’t live without it; but just like Goldilocks’ porridge, it has to be just right – too much or too little can result in serious health risks. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that our bodies make naturally and can also be found in foods we eat. This fat is necessary to all the cells in our bodies, including the brain, and is transported to our organs via the bloodstream. Maintaining a healthy cholesterol level is vital, and it’s important to request that your elder loved one’s doctor test for cholesterol levels for a variety of reasons. One particular reason of note is the potential link between high cholesterol levels in mid-life and the development of dementia. Lowering cholesterol to healthy levels appears to reduce the risk of dementia as we age.
Seniors who have an elevated cholesterol level (or “hypercholesterolemia”) often have other health conditions that are linked to the development of dementia, like diabetes and heart disease, so it can be difficult to discern the factor(s) that contribute to dementia in an individual. Recent studies surrounding the metabolism of cholesterol and the development of dementia have been unclear, indicating that more research needs to be done.
Many times when cholesterol is elevated, doctors will prescribe a low cholesterol diet, limiting foods that are high in cholesterol like eggs, liver, fish, fast foods, butter, shellfish, shrimp, bacon, sausages, red meat, cheese, and pastries. Your loved one’s doctor may also add a medication called a “statin”. Statins are medications that help lower the risk of hypercholesterolemia, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
There have been some initial concerns that short-term use of statins may lead to memory loss and confusion; however, studies in this area do not appear to link the medication to a higher risk in dementia. In fact, another large study recently involving 23,000 participants revealed that statins reduced the risk of dementia by 29%. More studies in this area need to be done, but the use of statins to help reduce cholesterol in the blood may help reduce the risk of dementia later.
A history of hypercholesterolemia is linked to dementia, so it is critical for your loved one to have his or her cholesterol blood levels regularly checked and evaluated by the physician. And, Nightingale Homecare can help in a variety of ways! We can provide the necessary transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, tests and procedures, stock the fridge and pantry with healthy, nutritious foods, pick up prescriptions and ensure they’re taken exactly as prescribed, prepare meals, provide the companionship to make mealtime more enjoyable, and so much more! Contact the Arizona home health care experts at (602) 504-1555 for more resources, tips, and professional hands-on assistance with senior care needs.