Good News About Dementia
When it comes to preserving your memory, the future is looking bright: ANew England Journal of Medicinepaper reveals the risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is significantly declining for older adults, and those who do are seeing it later in life.
Researchers from the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle examined five recent studies that show a decrease in the prevalence of dementia around the world. After crunching the data, the researchers credit the positive change to better education and awareness, improvements in preventative health care, and increased importance of a healthy lifestyle.
“The key concept here is that if dementia onset is delayed, people may avoid the disease altogether or spend less of their lifespan experiencing problems associated with dementia,” says Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, executive director at the Institute, who estimates the decrease in dementia cases to be anywhere from 10 to 20%. These results benefits everyone in the long term, the researchers explain—not only patients, but also their families, caregivers, and the health care system.
But there are still very real risk factors that still exist. “Physical inactivity is perhaps the greatest risk factor for dementia at present,” says Dr. Larson, who will be presenting his findings via podcast on Wednesday. After inactivity, the greatest risk factors are obesity and diabetes, which are becoming more common in high-risk dementia groups and are associated with earlier onset and more severe cases of dementia.
“Maybe we can’t find some magic pill that will make the disease disappear,” says Larson, “but we can continue to look for ways to prevent dementia, delay its start, or slow its progression through behavior.” So keep moving, keep puzzling, and keep challenging your brain—it might not be a cure, but it’s working.
Video: Good news on dementia prevalence Prof Sube Banerjee
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