If you’re like most people, you know there’s a chance that you’ll eventually suffer from dementia – but do you know what the risk factors are that could increase your chances of getting it? According to a new study published in JAMA Neurology, you probably don’t.
Here’s what you need to know.
What’s Your Dementia Risk? You May Be Surprised
Almost half of all American adults believe they’re likely to eventually develop dementia – and the results of a study conducted by Dr. Donovan Maust, a geriatric psychiatrist at the University of Michigan, suggest that most people don’t understand the connections between physical and brain health.
In the study, a majority of people who rated their own health as “Fair” or “Poor” also believed that their chances of getting dementia later in life were low – and many who said they were in “Excellent” health believed that their chances of getting dementia were high.
Many study participants said they tried at least one of four unscientifically proven memory-protecting methods, such as taking supplements and doing crossword puzzles. While there’s evidence that mental stimulation can help, it does take more than crossword puzzles – like chess, reading about unfamiliar topics and taking higher education classes at an advanced age – there’s absolutely no scientific evidence that supplements can stave off the disease.
However, research has shown that regular exercise, a healthy diet and limited alcohol intake (as well as a non-smoking lifestyle) do help make dementia less likely.
“We really haven’t done a good job of getting the word out that there really are things you can do to lower your risk,” said Maust.
But the fact remains that one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementias, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. There aren’t any medications or treatments to effectively prevent it, although European research strongly suggests that it boils down to lifestyle.
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