The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified dementia as the greatest global challenge for health and social care in the 21st century. By learning more about dementia, you will have a greater opportunity to improve not only your quality of life but the quality of life of those who love you.
A recent study from the Lancet Commissions identified that 1 in 3 cases of dementia can be prevented by addressing 9 lifestyle factors: hearing loss, education, smoking, depression, physical activity, social contact, hypertension, obesity, diabetes.
Here are some tips to alleviate these risks:
Get your hearing checked regularly
Recognition of hearing loss as a risk factor for dementia is relatively new, but it has shown that even mild levels of hearing loss increase the long-term risk of cognitive decline and dementia. It’s estimated that hearing loss occurs in 32% of individuals aged older than 55 years, which is pertinent to many people. Regular hearing tests should be a part of your regular health examinations. By establishing an early baseline, your hearing care professional will be able to track the progression of any hearing loss and help you to address and mitigate additional hearing loss.
Older adults who exercise are more likely to maintain cognition than those who do not exercise. Studies have found that physical activity has a significant protective effect against cognitive decline. Physical exercise comes with a range of benefits as well, such as improving balance and reducing falls, improving mood, reducing mortality, and improving function. Stay active, stay healthy!
Smoking is linked to cardiovascular pathology, which is associated with cognitive impairment; cigarette smoke also contains neurotoxins, which heighten the risk of cognitive decline. Quit smoking and keep your mind clear!
Stay socially active
Evidence is growing that social isolation is a risk factor for dementia and it increases the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, and depression. Social isolation might also result in cognitive inactivity, which is linked to faster cognitive decline and low mood. Staying connected to your community, family, and friends is helpful to maintain cognitive wellness!
Kuiper, J., Zuidersma, M., & Oude Voshaar, R. (2015). Social relationships and risk of dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal cohort studies. Ageing Res Rev, 22: 39-57.
Lin, F., Metter, E., O’Brien, R., Resnick, S., Zonderman, A., & Ferrucci, L. (2011). Hearing loss and incident dementia. Arch Neurol, 68: 214–20.
Prince, M., Bryce, R., Albanese, E., Wimo, A., Ribeiro, W., & Ferri, C. (2013). The global prevalence of dementia: a systematic review and metaanalysis. Alzheimers Dement, 9: 63–75.
Sofi, F., Valecchi, D., & Bacci, D. (2011). Physical activity and risk of cognitive decline: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Intern Med, 269: 107–17.
Swan, G., & Lessov-Schlaggar, C. (2007). The effects of tobacco smoke and nicotine on cognition and the brain. Neuropsychol Rev, 17: 259–73.
The Lancet Commissions. (2017). Dementia prevention, intervention, and care.
Yang, Y., Boen, C., Gerken, K., Li, T., Schorpp, K., & Harris, K. (2016). Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 113: 578–83.