Only 40 years ago it was widely believed that if you lived long enough, you would eventually experience serious cognitive decline, particularly with respect to memory. The implication for cognition was that achieving an advanced age was effectively equivalent to becoming senile – a word that implies mental defects or a dementing (1) illness. Since then there has been a major shift away from the view of “aging as a disease” and towards the view of “aging as only a risk factor” for a number of neurological diseases.
A recent Lancet report, by 24 leading dementia researchers from around the world, zeroed in on nine of the best-known lifestyle factors that contribute to the illness and account for more than a third of dementia cases. Not smoking, doing exercise, keeping a healthy weight, treating high blood pressure and diabetes can all reduce the risk of dementia, as well as cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The researchers say they did not have enough data to include dietary factors or alcohol in their calculations but believe both could be important.
The takeaway: 1 in three cases of dementia could be prevented if more people looked after their brain health throughout life.
Related Reading: 15 Ways To Stave Off Dementia
(1) Dementia is how we describe symptoms that impact memory and lead to a decline in cognitive performance, often in ways that disrupt daily living. There are different brain disorders that cause dementia, but Alzheimer’s is the most common, followed by cerebrovascular disease and Lewy bodies disease.