Question: What do a sweaty workout, a night class and a bicycle helmet have in common?
Answer: They may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
According to a report presented today at this year’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London, more than a third of dementia cases can be prevented by people of all ages making wise lifestyle choices.
For the young, education is especially important. For people in middle age, factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and hearing loss can make a difference. And for older people, depression, diabetes, inactivity and social isolation should ring alarms. And, not surprisingly, smoking is a bad idea for people want to avoid dementia in their later years.
The association identifies Alzheimer’s disease as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia costing the nation more than $250 billion each year.
The report was presented by the Lancet International Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care.
“Today’s findings are extremely hopeful,” said Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer Maria Carrillo. “At an individual level, many people have the potential to reduce their risk of cognitive decline, and perhaps dementia, through simple, healthful behavior changes.”
The association also offers a research-based list of suggestions—”10 Ways to Love Your Brain“—to help keep your gray matter in good shape throughout your life. These include exercise, continued learning and steps to avoid head injuries.