One in three cases of dementia may be preventable, according to a new study from the first Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care. The report was presented at this year's Alzheimer's Association National Conference. A collective of 24 international experts reviewed research and examined evidence-based recommendations for alleviating and preventing dementia to develop the guidelines, the news outlet affirms.
The report reveals that managing lifestyle factors earlier in life - even as early as childhood - may make a person less likely to develop dementia. The team identified nine risk factors across early, middle and later stages of life that increase the chance that an individual will develop dementia. Increasing education early in life, preventing conditions like hypertension and obesity in middle age, and, in late life, quitting smoking, increasing activity and social contact, and managing diabetes can all decrease the likelihood that a person will develop dementia by 35 percent.
Widespread benefits possible
A Washington Post report covering the study results noted lifestyle changes can alleviate these risk factors and help drive down the cost of dementia care, which was estimated to be $818 million, globally, in 2015. This figure is expected to rise.
"Lifestyle changes can help drive down the cost of dementia care."
"The message is that conditions like dementia are not immutable and are substantially modifiable by the environment," Lon Schneider, psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, told the Post.
In other words, seniors and caretakers can take steps to keep the mind and body active and, hopefully, healthier. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and time around others are factors that may decrease a person's risk of developing dementia.
Individuals can check in with doctors to monitor hearing loss and avoid smoking in order to potentially stay healthy. For those looking to start a new exercise plan, it is wise to check with a doctor to learn what is appropriate. There are many activities seniors can try to stay healthy and fit, many of which are low-impact and that also promote socialization, another important factor in mitigating dementia risk. Doctors can also provide guidance on any diet changes, and it can be helpful to focus on a balanced, fresh diet.