Hearing Loss And Dementia Risk
People with hearing loss in midlife are at a higher risk of dementia. Older adults with hearing problems also have higher odds of dementia except for those who use hearing aids. socially isolating, Larson said. Social isolation and inability to engage with others in speech and listening has a detrimental effect on maintaining brain reserve.
Heres what you can do:To prevent hearing loss, Larson urged people to avoid excessive noise. Those who have hearing difficulties should seek testing and, if appropriate, use a hearing aid.
Read more about past research on the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline
New Frontiers For Ad Prevention And Treatment
New horizons for prevention and treatment might include how risk might be different for individuals of varied genetic ancestries and ethnicities both here in the US and abroad. The risk may also be different between males and females. Finally, biobanks can only describe association, not causation, between changes in lifestyle and dementia risk. To determine causation, randomized trials are required, and a new US-based randomized clinical trial called POINTER is now underway.
Trying to live a healthy lifestyle, despite its elusive definition, seems to be an obvious way to prevent dementia. What remains to be seen is how studies using biobanks can be informative about the millions of people who already may be suffering from the disease.
Pillar #: Vascular Health
Theres more and more evidence to indicate that whats good for your heart is also good for your brain. Maintaining your cardiovascular health can be crucial in protecting your brain and lowering your risk for different types of dementia, including Alzheimers disease and vascular dementia. And of course, addressing heart-health issues can also help you to lower your risk for a future heart attack or stroke.
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Risk Factors For Dementia
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of developing a condition.
Some dementia risk factors are difficult or impossible to change. These include:
- age: the older you are, the more likely you are to develop dementia. However, dementia is not a natural part of ageing
- genes: in general, genes alone are not thought to cause dementia. However, certain genetic factors are involved with some of the less common types. Dementia usually develops because of a combination of genetic and “environmental” factors, such as smoking and a lack of regular exercise
- lower levels of education
- keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level
What Factors Might Affect Dementia Risk
Genes which are not considered modifiable and lifestyle factors like physical activity and diet which are considered modifiable play potential roles in different forms of dementia.
A recent study in JAMA attempts to estimate how much genetic and lifestyle factors influence risk for dementia by querying individuals who pledged to be part of a UK-based biobank. Biobanks link large collections of biological information, such as genetics, with health and disease status gleaned from medical records. Using data in large biobanks, scientists can look at how the environment which includes lifestyle choices and genetics work together to increase risk for disease.
In the JAMA study, researchers tapped hospital records and death registries to collect diagnoses in 200,000 white British individuals age 60 or older.
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A Nonpharmacologic Approach To Treating Dementia
The commission also examined the effect of nonpharmacologic interventions for people with dementia and concluded that they had an important role in treatment, especially when trying to address agitation and aggression.
Antipsychotic drugs are commonly used to treat agitation and aggression, but there is substantial concern about these drugs because of an increased risk of death, cardiovascular adverse events and infections, not to mention excessive sedation, Schneider said.
The evidence showed that psychological, social and environmental interventions such as social contact and activities were superior to antipsychotic medications for treating dementia-related agitation and aggression.
The commission also found that nonpharmacologic interventions like group cognitive stimulation therapy and exercise conferred some benefit in cognition as well.
The commissions full report provides detailed recommendations in the areas of prevention, treating cognitive symptoms, individualizing dementia care, caring for caregivers, planning for the future following a dementia diagnosis, managing neuropsychiatric symptoms and considering the end of life.
Think a family member may have dementia? Schedule a screening with the USC Memory and Aging Center by calling .
Tips For Starting And Sticking With An Exercise Plan
If youve been inactive for a while, starting an exercise program can be intimidating. But remember: a little exercise is better than none. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your health.
Choose activities you enjoy and start smalla 10-minute walk a few times a day, for exampleand allow yourself to gradually build up your momentum and self-confidence.
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Pillar #: Mental Stimulation
Its important to continue learning new things and challenging your brain throughout life. Whether youre looking to prevent the onset of dementia or delay its progression, when it comes to your brain the key is to use it or lose it. In the groundbreaking NIH ACTIVE study, older adults who received as few as 10 sessions of mental training not only improved their cognitive functioning in daily activities in the months after the training, but continued to show long-lasting improvements 10 years later.
Activities involving multiple tasks or requiring communication, interaction, and organization offer the greatest benefits. Set aside time each day to stimulate your brain:
Learn something new. Study a foreign language, practice a musical instrument, or learn to paint or sew. One of the best ways to take up a new hobby is to sign up for a class and then schedule regular times for practicing. The greater the novelty, complexity, and challenge, the greater the benefit.
Raise the bar for an existing activity. If youre not keen on learning something new, you can still challenge your brain by increasing your skills and knowledge of something you already do. For example, if you can play the piano and dont want to learn a new instrument, commit to learning a new piece of music or improving how well you play your favorite piece.
Follow the road less traveled. Take a new route or eat with your non-dominant hand. Vary your habits regularly to create new brain pathways.
Trials Of Combination Strategies To Prevent Dementia
The FINGER RCT was a 2-year multidomain intervention to prevent cognitive decline and dementia in 1260 people with cardiovascular risk factors aged 60â77 years, recruited from a Finnish national survey. Similar multidomain studies were discussed in the 2017 Commission. FINGER found a small group reduction in cognitive decline in the intervention group compared with control regardless of baseline sociodemographic, socio-economic, cognitive, or cardiovascular status. However, in a subgroup analysis, greater beneficial effects were observed on processing speed in individuals with higher baseline cortical thickness in Alzheimer’s disease areas.
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How Loneliness And Social Isolation Can Lead To Dementia
Forming social connections can enhance a persons cognitive reserve. In other words, paying attention to others and interacting with them keeps our brains active and healthy, Livingston said.
Additionally, some studies find the opposite social isolation may increase peoples risk of dementia. One study shows that people who are single lifelong and those who are widowed are more likely to have dementia compared to married couples.
Heres what you can do:Livingston suggested seeing and talking to people, walking with others and chatting over tea, coffee or food activities you may find pleasure in doing with others. She reminded us of an important point amid the coronavirus shutdown, a public health crisis which has left many feeling socially isolated: Try to be physically distant but not socially distant.
Read more about past research on the link between social connection and dementia
Dementia Treatment Drugs Could Be Available By 2025
Dementia Treatment Drugs Could Be Available by 2025
Success in recent drug trials is bringing new hope to the fight against Alzheimers disease. Scientists and researchers in the field are encouraged by their results, predicting that dementia treatment drugs will be available in the next decade.
Read more about the reasons for their optimism and the future of drug treatments for Alzheimers prevention.
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Tools To Take Care Of You
Two of our new research projects also address dementia prevention in different ways.
The Medical Research Future Fund -funded EXercise for Cognitive hEaLth project aims to remotely deliver an individually tailored physical-activity interventions to people living in the community, aged 45-80 years, who experience mild to moderate symptoms of depression or anxiety, as well as have concerns about their memory.
The aim is to improve mental health and reduce dementia risk through using behaviour change techniques to encourage physical activity.
This remote intervention delivery not only addresses the challenges of COVID-19, but also helps reduce Australias tyranny of distance as it increases accessibility to those in rural or remote areas.
Our other study, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council , is the Leveraging Evidence into Action on Dementia project. This is a collaboration with researchers from the University of New South Wales and other institutions.
The project aims to co-design a tool that can estimate an individuals risk for multiple conditions at once including dementia, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. This would streamline risk assessment and help to facilitate preventative healthcare especially in primary care.
Currently, we are interviewing general practitioners and undertaking a community survey to find out about opinions and preferences to guide the co-design of this tool.
Why People May Not Want A Diagnosis
A survey carried out by YouGov in 2011 revealed that dementia is peoples biggest fear in later life ahead of cancer and any other illnesses . Concerns over the impact on their daily lives particularly their jobs, social lives and ability to drive mean that some people showing early signs of dementia choose to not seek a diagnosis.
The benefits of an early diagnosis far outweigh these fears a person showing symptoms of dementia may in fact be suffering from a treatable condition, and someone with dementia can only have access to the right care and support after diagnosis.
Norman McNamara again, talking about being diagnosed with dementia at the age of 50, says:
It is very hard sometimes for people to accept they have got dementia because of the stigma with it and connected to it. But if you had a pain in your back or in your chest, or a throb in your legs or your feet and you didnt know what it was, you would go to a doctor. Yet, with dementia, people seem to shy away from it. But knowing whats wrong with you is so important. You cant hide away from it.
This is available to view on .
Physical Inactivity Exercise And Fitness
Studies of physical activity are complex. Patterns of physical activity change with age, generation, and morbidity and are different across sex, social class, and cultures. The studies suggest a complicated relationship with the potential for both risk reduction and reverse causation.
Meta-analyses of longitudinal observational studies of 1â21 years duration showed exercise to be associated with reduced risk of dementia. A further overview of systematic reviews concluded that there is convincing evidence for physical activity protecting against clinically diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease.
Since the 2017 Commission, the HUNT study of 28916 participants aged 30â60 years has been published, reinforcing the previous literature in this area. At least weekly midlife moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with reduced dementia risk over a 25-year period of follow-up but the confidence intervals were wide. In contrast the Whitehall Study reporting on the 28-year follow-up of 10308 people, found that more than 2Â·5 hours of self-reported moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week, lowered dementia risk over 10, but not 28 years. Very long-term studies are unusual however, one 44-year study recruited 191 women purposively to be representative of the Swedish population and reported that 32% of the participants with low baseline peak fitness, 25% with medium, and 5% with high fitness developed dementia .
Trials of exercise
Nutrition And Prevention Of Dementia
Evidence suggests that diet interventions may show promise for the prevention of cognitive decline. A recent systematic review that included 18 studies, 5 of which were RCTs showed that Mediterranean diet, a nutritional style based on fruits, vegetables, and fish can delay cognitive decline, as measured across multiple domains of memory and executive function. These findings were consistent with an independent review that included only RCTs and found beneficial effects of Mediterranean diet on both global cognitive functioning, as well as memory, language, and domains of executive function. Despite these effects on neuropsychological outcomes, however, there was overall no significant impact of Mediterranean diet on incident dementia and controversial impact on incident MCI. Notably, the beneficial impact of the Mediterranean diet on cognition may be enhanced when combining this dietary style with the Dietary Approach to Systolic Hypertension diet. Studies suggest that this hybrid diet is associated with delayed age-related cognitive decline and decreased risk for incident AD.,
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Impact Of A Diagnosis
A major report on the benefits of early diagnosis shows that a diagnosis is often greeted with severe shock, with feelings of disbelief, anger, loss and grief . However, a diagnosis is often regarded by those with dementia and family members as a positive event, particularly when the initial shock has worn off. Critically, the response to a diagnosis depends on how a person with dementia is told about it and the level of support that is available to them and their families after diagnosis.
It is therefore important for the person with dementia and their family to receive the dementia diagnosis in a positive way, with time made available to answer any questions and for support and reassurance to be provided. This is more likely to lead to the individual feeling more in control and empowered to make decisions.
Pillar #: Stress Management
Chronic or persistent stress can take a heavy toll on the brain, leading to shrinkage in a key memory area, hampering nerve cell growth, and increasing the risk of Alzheimers disease and dementia. Yet simple stress management tools can minimize its harmful effects and protect your brain.
Breathe! Quiet your stress response with deep, abdominal breathing. Restorative breathing is powerful, simple, and free!
Schedule daily relaxation activities. Keeping stress under control requires regular effort. Learning relaxation techniques such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga can help you unwind and reverse the damaging effects of stress.
Nourish inner peace. Regular meditation, prayer, reflection, and religious practice may immunize you against the damaging effects of stress.
Make fun a priority. All work and no play is not good for your stress levels or your brain. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress.
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Whats Next With Dementia Prevention Research
More research is needed to find ways to help prevent Alzheimers and related dementias. Future research may determine that specific interventions are needed to prevent or delay the disease in some people, but others may need a combination of treatments based on their individual risk factors. Understanding risk factors and choices you can make now is important for both your present and future health. In addition to this website, consider the resources listed below to learn more.
You can also help researchers learn more about preventing dementia by participating in clinical trials and studies. Search the Alzheimers.gov Clinical Trials Finder to find studies that need volunteers.
Lifestyle Changes Could Delay Or Prevent 40% Of Dementia Cases Study
Addressing 12 factors such as excessive drinking and air pollution exposure may have significant effect, experts say
Excessive drinking, exposure to air pollution and head injuries all increase dementia risk, experts say in a report revealing that up to 40% of dementia cases worldwide could be delayed or prevented by addressing 12 such lifestyle factors.
Around 50 million people around the world live with dementia, including about 850,000 people in the UK. By 2040, it has been estimated there will be more than 1.2 million people living with dementia in England and Wales. There is currently no cure.
However, while some risk factors for dementia cannot be changed, for example particular genes or ethnicity, many are down to lifestyle.
Dementia is potentially preventable you can do things to reduce your risk of dementia, whatever stage of life you are at, said Gill Livingston, professor of psychiatry of older people at University College London and a co-author of the report.
She added such lifestyle changes could reduce the chances of developing dementia in both those with and without a high genetic risk for such conditions.
While some actions can be taken on a personal level to tackle such issues, many require government-led change, Livingston said. The report includes a list of nine recommendations, including improving air quality, and urges policymakers to be ambitious about prevention.
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There Are No Instant Miracle Cures But Recent Studies Suggest We Have More Control Over Our Cognitive Health Than We Might Think It Just Takes Some Effort
When it comes to battling dementia, the unfortunate news is this: Medications have proven ineffective at curing or stopping the disease and its most common form, Alzheimers disease. But that isnt the end of the story. According to a recent wave of scientific studies, we have more control over our cognitive health than is commonly known. We just have to take certain stepsideally, early and oftento live a healthier lifestyle.
In fact, according to a recent report commissioned by the Lancet, a medical journal, around 35% of dementia cases might be prevented if people do things including exercising and engaging in cognitively stimulating activities. When people ask me how to prevent dementia, they often want a simple answer, such as vitamins, dietary supplements or the latest hyped idea, says Eric Larson, a physician at Kaiser Permanente in Seattle and one of a group of scientists who helped prepare the report. I tell them they can take many common-sense actions that promote health throughout life.