12 Little-Known Things That Can Reduce Your Dementia Risk

12 little-known things that can lower your risk of dementia

Dementia is a first cause of death in Australia.

Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is a preventable part of aging. In fact, we all have the power to reduce our risk of developing dementia, no matter your age.

Research shows your risk of developing dementia could be reduced by up to 40% (and even more so if you live in a low- and middle-income countries) by addressing lifestyle factors such as healthy eating, exercise, and alcohol consumption.

But the first step to reducing the risk of dementia at the population level is to understand how well people understand the risk factors and the barriers they may face in making lifestyle changes.

Our new paperpublished this week in the Journal of Aging and Longevityfound that most older people are aware that dementia is a modifiable disease and that they have the power to modify their risk of dementia.

We also found that the biggest barrier to brain-healthy lifestyle choices was lack of knowledge, suggesting that a public awareness campaign is urgently needed.

What we have done

We started with revision published research to identify 12 factors that reduce the risk of dementia. We asked 834 older Australians about their knowledge of the 12 factors, which were:

  1. have a mentally active lifestyle
  2. do physical activity
  3. have a healthy diet
  4. have good mental health
  6. do not consume alcohol
  7. control high blood pressure
  8. maintain a healthy weight
  9. manage high cholesterol
  10. prevent heart disease
  11. not have kidney disease
  12. not have diabetes

The Lancet then published its own list of factors that help reduce the risk of dementia, which covered much the same territory (but included a few others, such as reducing air pollution, treating hearing loss and social commitment).

Of course, there’s no way to reduce your risk of dementia to zero. Some people do all the “right” things and still have dementia. But there is good proof managing lifestyle factors helps make it less likely you will get dementia in your lifetime.

Our research shows that many older Australians are fully aware, with over 75% able to correctly identify more than four of the factors from our list of 12.

However, few were able to name the lesser-known risk factors, such as preventing heart disease and health conditions like kidney disease.

The good news is that nearly half of the sample correctly identified more than six of the 12 protective factors, with a mentally active lifestyle, physical activity and healthy diet in the top three spots.

Two key issues

Two things stand out as strongly related to the ability to identify factors influencing dementia risk.

Education was the key. People who received more than 12 years of formal schooling were more likely to agree that dementia was a modifiable condition. We are first exposed to health management during our school years and therefore more likely to develop healthier habits.

Age was the other key factor. Younger respondents (under 75) were able to accurately identify more protective factors than older respondents. This is why health promotion initiatives and public education efforts about dementia are essential (such as Dementia Awareness Month and Memory, Walk and Jog Initiatives).

How can these results be used in practice?

Our findings suggest that we need to target education at different age groups, from children to older Australians.

This could involve a whole system approachfrom programs intended for familiesto educational sessions for school-aged children, to the involvement of general practitioners in raising awareness.

We also need to tackle the barriers that stand in the way of reducing the risk of dementia. This means doing activities that motivate you, finding programs that fit your needs and schedule, and are accessible.

What does this mean for you?

Reducing your risk of dementia means recognizing that change starts with you.

We all know the daily challenges that keep us from starting an exercise program or sticking to a meal plan.

There are simple and easy changes we can start with. Our team has developed a program that can help you. We offer a limited number free brain health boxes, which include information resources and physical elements such as a pedometer. These boxes aim to help rural Australians aged 55 and over make lifestyle changes that support healthy brain ageing. If you would like to register, visit our website.

Now is the time to think about your brain health. Let’s start now.

Joyce SietteThematic Researcher, University of Western Sydney and Laura DoddsPhD student, University of Western Sydney

This article is republished from The conversation under Creative Commons license. Read it original article.

#littleknown #risk #dementia

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *