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Postpone Dementia by High Midlife Cardiovascular Fitness

Hi-fitness in midlife women may cut dementia risk by almost 90% in later life.

Women with a high level of cardiovascular fitness during middle-age had an 88% reduction in risk of developing dementia compared women who were moderately fit in midlife. When the highly fit women did get dementia, they developed it an average of 11 years later--at 90 instead of 79 years old! This comes from a Swedish cohort of women who were followed up to 44 years.

PositiveTip: Improving you fitness level in middle-age could delay and even prevent dementia later in life!

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Regular Exercise Lowers Risk for Dementia

Regular physical activity decreases the odds of dementia.

In the U.S. the total cost of caring for a person with dementia is $287,000, which is 57% higher than caring for a patient with any other disease. Sadly, there is no effective treatment for dementia. However, the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Survey has revealed that people who regularly exercised had almost 50% lower odds of developing dementia than those who did not exercise regularly.

PositiveTip: Choose daily regular exercise to reduce your odds of dementia and other health risks.

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Brain Health Depends on a Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle may delay dementia and enhance cognition.

Vascular risk factors during midlife may foster the development of underlying dementia later in life. Having a BMI of greater than 30 kg/m2 at midlife is associated with 2X the risk of brain amyloid deposits later. Other risk factors are smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes--all modifiable by a healthy lifestyle.

PositiveTip: To optimize brain health follow a healthy lifestyle and engage in mentally stimulating activities today!

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Plant-based Diets Lower Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

High meat diets tend to be linked to more dementia.

A 10-country study of the per capita supply of meat and other animal products (not milk) demonstrated that the higher the supply in the 5 years before diagnosis the higher the risk of Alzheimer's disease. This was correlative and could not pinpoint cause and effect. The authors suggest it might be saturated fat or the copper and iron that is more readily absorbable from meat in contrast to plant-based foods.

PositiveTip: Choose plant-based foods like vegetables, fruit and whole grains to lower your risk of dementia.

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Dementia Does Not Have to Happen

Specific steps can be taken to prevent dementia.

A Lancet Commission, after a careful review of epidemiological data, reported that 35% of all dementia is "potentially modifiable". The modifiable risk factors can be separated into early-, mid-, and late-life prevention as follows:

  • Early life: poor education (8%)
  • Mid-life: hearing loss (9%), hypertension (2%), obesity (1%)
  • Late-life: smoking (5%), depression (4%), physical inactivity (3%), social isolation (2%), and diabetes (1%)

This is really good news! 

PositiveTip: By choosing to follow a healthy lifestyle you will take important steps to reduce your risk of dementia.

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Hearing Loss First, then Dementia?

The worse the hearing loss, the greater the risk of developing dementia.

Researchers with the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging have found a strong association between hearing loss and dementia. When compared to individuals with normal hearing, those with mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss had, respectively, a 2, 3, and 5 fold, increased risk of developing dementia over the 18 year study. This correlation held true even when age, diabetes, hypertension, and other confounders were ruled out.

PositiveTip: Have your hearing tested by an audiologist, and if needed, wear hearing aids to hear better and to protect your brain.

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MIND Diet May Delay Alzheimer's

MIND dietary pattern good for brain health!

Evidence suggests both the DASH Diet and a Mediterranean-type dietary pattern have significant brain benefits. A dietary pattern that combines the best of both of these may be even more protective. The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention of Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline. This was equivalent to 7.5 years of younger age. The MIND diet emphasizes green leafy vegetables, berries and olive oil--each rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

PositiveTip: Plant-based foods and limited intakes of animal products may significantly help delay dementia.

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Screening for Dementia

Earlier identification of cognitive impairment not associated with better outcomes.

Today there is great interest in screening tests to identify early cognitive impairment in older adults. But are there benefits of doing so to the patient or family? According to a review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force there is no empirical evidence to support the benefits of even the best screening tools. Perhaps awareness has some value, but unfortunately there are no effective interventions available yet.

PositiveTip: Remember, screening results do not always translate into meaningful treatment interventions. 

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Older Danes Seem to be Getting Sharper

Age-related cognitive decline in the very old has improved in Denmark.

Good news for those getting older! A Danish cohort study has found that men and women born in 1915 were mentally sharper in 2010 (age 94 and 95) compared to those born in 1905 and assessed in 1998 (age 92 and 93). The 1915 cohort also had significantly better activities of daily living scores than did the 1905 group. The authors did not postulate as to the reasons for these improvements.

PositiveTip: Making healthy choices today may support not only longer life, but a better quality of life as well.

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What is the Most Costly Health Condition?

Dementia beats heart disease and cancer in U.S. spending.

Dementia affects a growing number of aging adults in the United States. Researchers have recently calculated that the care for this large group cost from $41,000 to $56,000 per year per patient in 2010, making this the most costly health condition. The total expenditure for this type of care was $159-215 billion annually, with predictions that this could increase 80% by 2040.

PositiveTip: Growing evidence strongly suggests a healthy lifestyle lowers the risk of dementia later in life.