Wednesday, 13 December, 2017

Lifestyle changes may help stave off Alzheimer's

Dementia prevention Doggygraph
Sammy Stanley | 21 July, 2017, 00:38

A third of dementia cases could be prevented if people are guided towards certain steps to look after their health, according to a study. That figure is expected to double by 2051.

Their review focused on nine factors at various stages in life, including staying in education until over the age of 15, reducing high blood pressure, obesity and hearing loss in mid-life (45-65 years old), and reducing smoking, depression, physical inactivity, social isolation and diabetes in later life (over 65 years old). "So, that's really exciting, and people are talking now about preventing Alzheimer's disease like we've never done before". Earlier this week, they found that your diet, stress levels, and sleep also impact your risk of cognitive brain decline.

University of Melbourne Emeritus Professor David Ames, who served on the commission, says the key point is that "changes in lifestyle may have the potential to diminish the incidence of dementia".

"Acting now will vastly improve life for people with dementia and their families and, in doing so, will transform the future of society".

Schneider presented the findings at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017. However, when it comes to the link between education and dementia, previous research has suggested that more education may increase a person's cognitive reserve - that is, the mind's resilience to brain damage that aging may inflict - the researchers said.

When these factors are all factored together, the researchers note that they account for about 35 per cent of the overall risk of dementia.

A new report by the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care listed nine factors that could drastically lower the cases of dementia. Studies show people with hearing loss are more likely to experience memory problems, and have speculated that it's because hearing loss leads to depression and social isolation - or even makes the brain work harder to deal with garbled sound, at the expense of other thinking skills.

Decrease dementia
Keck Medicine of USC

In midlife, the commission found that one of the most powerful - and fixable - drivers of dementia risk is hearing loss.

It's not clear from medical research yet whether using hearing aids can counteract this risk.

Increasing physical activity, reducing the frequency of smoking, and controlling high blood pressure and diabetes are potentially beneficial interventions.

A healthier lifestyle means a lowered risk for dementia, researchers recently said.

The study also highlighted the beneficial effects of nonpharmacologic interventions such as social contact and exercise for people with dementia.

"We hope that this report will feed into individual nations' dementia policies and public health strategies, be used by individual clinicians to inform and improve their practice, and through media publicity inform the general public of what they can do to help avoid dementia, which is the most feared illness in old age".

It also calls for widespread supports for family caregivers, who bear most of dementia's burdens.

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