It is estimated that one in 14 people over the age of 65 will develop dementia in the UK, and Alzheimer's and other types of dementia affect one in six people over 80 – but did you know that a few simple lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risk of developing it ?
According to new research, not many of us do. Just one of us believes it is possible to protect dementia, with almost half (48%) of British adults who do not know a single risk factor.
A study conducted by Ipsos MORI for Alzheimer's Research UK found that the 2,361 British adults examined, only 1% could mention all seven known risk factors for degenerative brain diseases (a risk factor is something that increases a person's risk of developing a condition).
Concerns believe that one third of all dementia cases are affected by common factors under peoples control, so it has never been more important to get the facts.
The Alzheimer's Society says that while there is no way to be sure to prevent dementia at all, there are some "modifiable" factors that we can influence – meaning we can take steps to change them and potentially reduce the risk. for dementia. Here are the lifestyle areas you should consider …
Smoking cigarettes: "Smokers have an increased risk for both Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. The research estimates the effect between a 30% and a 50% increase in risk depending on the study and type of dementia," says Alzheimer's Society Research Communications Manager Lotty Davies.
So didn't smoke. If you already do so, try to stop the habit.
Physical activity: "Middle-aged and older adults who engage in regular aerobic exercise have lower rates on Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Studies estimate the protective effect to be about 30-40% reduced risk of dementia compared to those who have no physical activity , "says Davies.
The charity recommends keeping physically active for at least 30 minutes, five times a week.
Traumatic head injury: "A serious head injury could increase the risk of dementia later in life," she says. "There are many variations between studies on the effect size, but a study of 200,000 US veterans suggests a serious head injury may increase the risk of dementia by up to 60%."
Broom: "Following a Mediterranean style (with a large proportion of oily fish, fruit, vegetables, unrefined cereals and olive oil and low amounts of red meat and sugar), there is a reduced risk of dementia. Studies estimate that it can reduce the risk by about one third, says Davies.
It is also advisable to keep your alcohol within the recommended limits: a maximum of 14 units per week for men and women, spread over 3 or more days.
Type 2 diabetes: "People with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop dementia than non-diabetics," she says.
Keeping a healthy weight will reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease – and therefore probably also for dementia, the charity says.
High blood pressure: "Long studies have shown that high blood pressure in the middle life is a key factor that can increase the risk of developing dementia in later life," says Davies. "A lifelong approach to good health as the best way to reduce the risk of dementia."
If you have one of these conditions, it is important to handle them properly.
Poor childhood education: "People who spend fewer years in education as a child are at increased risk of developing dementia in later life. Although we cannot change this as adults, we can change that as a society to reduce dementia in our future. population, "she says.
The charity recommends giving your brain a daily training by reading, doing puzzles, word searches or crosswords, playing cards or learning something new.
They also say that keeping socially committed and having a good social network can reduce the risk of dementia. Take a new hobby that involves socializing, joining a club or volunteering.
In addition, there are other risk factors for dementia that are not in our control. These include aging, genes, gender (research suggests that women are more likely to develop it than men) and ethnicity (there is some evidence that people in South Asian, African or African Caribbean origin are developing dementia more often than Europeans ) according to charity.
Although the Alzheimer's Society says that the biggest risk factor for dementia is getting older, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that there are ways to actively reduce your risk as an individual.
Visit alzheimers.org.uk for more information.