Is dementia actually preventable?
Forgetfulness might seem like an unavoidable part of ageing, but you aren’t destined to dementia. In fact, there’s actually a lot you can do to prevent dementia. A Lancet Commissions report from 24 leading dementia researchers says 35 per cent of dementia comes from preventable causes. Follow these steps and you could ward off a condition affecting about 47 million people worldwide.
Adults who don’t have at least a secondary school degree are at higher risk for developing dementia, according to the report. This could be because more education usually means a higher socioeconomic status, but it could have to do with learning itself. “Cognitive resilience in later life is likely to be enhanced by building brain reserve earlier in life through education and other intellectual stimulation,” write the study authors.
Check your hearing
After age 55, hearing loss is associated with higher risk of dementia. It’s probably not a cause – older adults are already at generally higher risk for both dementia and hearing loss – but fixing hearing could make cognitive loss easier. For one thing, dementia might be even more stressful for people who can’t hear. Plus, people might disengage socially when they have a hard time hearing, which could speed up any cognitive decline, say the researchers. Hearing loss is sometimes associated with Alzheimer’s as well, though generally, the causes of the two diseases are different.