A recent study published in Lancet identified nine lifestyle factors associated with dementia. This meta-analysis found that over 1/3 of dementia cases could be avoided through lifestyle changes. This research is part of a new focus on dementia prevention. While a cure for dementia seems a long way off, lifestyle changes are within our reach right now.
Dementia PreventionThe big take-away from the report was to be ambitious about prevention. While we cannot modify the genetic pre-disposition toward Alzheimer’s, we can make lifestyle changes. The lifestyle factors identified in the report can be grouped into three main areas – cardiovascular health, social engagement and intellectual engagement. Adoption of dementia prevention strategies could focus on these nine areas and have a significant impact.
Cardiovascular Health.The first series of risk factors focused on cardiovascular health. The identified risks were:
- Lack of Physical Exercise
Social Engagement.The second series of factors focused on social engagement. The identified risks were:
- Hearing Loss
- Social isolation
The Technology TemptationThe study cautioned that while technology can be helpful, it should not replace social contact. We know from the Oregon study that the face-to-face connections have a bigger impact on depression than email or phone calls. This area really speaks to the need of individuals to have emotional connections with other human beings.
Intellectual Engagement.The third series of factors focuses on intellectual engagement. The identified risk was:
- Incomplete secondary education