The latest World Alzheimer Report released indicates there are a number of simple lifestyle changes people can make to reduce their risk of developing dementia in later life.
The latest World Alzheimer Report released today by Alzheimer’s Disease International indicates there are a number of simple lifestyle changes people can make to reduce their risk of developing dementia in later life.
The World Alzheimer Report 2014, titled ‘Dementia Risk Reduction: An analysis of protective and modifiable factors’, which was launched in New Zealand today by Alzheimers NZ and Bupa, indicates that essentially, what is good for the heart is good for the brain. There is persuasive evidence that the risk of dementia can be reduced by limiting tobacco use, better control and detection of high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as other cardiovascular risk factors.
Professor Martin Prince, from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and author of the report, commented: “There is already evidence from several studies that the incidence of dementia may be falling in high income countries, linked to improvements in education and cardiovascular health. We need to do all we can to accentuate these trends.” Click to read full report
In New Zealand there are currently around 50,000 New Zealanders living with dementia, a number which is forecast to triple to around 150,000 by 2050. The total financial cost of dementia in New Zealand in 2011 was estimated at nearly $1 billion.
Catherine Hall, Executive Director of Alzheimers NZ, said the report indicates people may be able to reduce their chances of developing dementia by making a few simple lifestyle changes. These include looking after your heart, being physically active, living a healthy lifestyle, challenging your brain and enjoying social activity.
“The evidence in the report suggests that if we enter old age with better developed, healthier brains we are likely to live longer, happier and more independent lives, with a much reduced chance of developing dementia,” Ms Hall says.
“Living a healthy lifestyle, keeping our brains active and remaining socially engaged can help keep our brains healthy.”
However, survey data released today by Bupa has shown that many New Zealanders are not aware of the things they can do to potentially reduce their risk of developing dementia.
Gráinne Moss, Managing Director of Bupa NZ, said recent research indicates that 69% of New Zealanders are concerned about developing dementia. However, few people are aware that leading a healthy lifestyle could impact their risk of developing dementia, with the majority believing that age (72%) and genetics (67%) are contributing factors.
“We believe the report provides us with a valuable set of tools and insights that we can all use. Our research findings highlight the need for us to raise awareness among New Zealanders so that they can take action.” says Mrs Moss
Ms Hall says as a result of the findings of the report, Alzheimers NZ is calling for dementia related messaging to be included in mainstream health promotion campaigns.
“We’ve known for some time that keeping fit and active, eating well and refraining from smoking is good for our hearts. It now appears that what is good for our hearts is also good for our brains, so now is the time to start making these lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of developing dementia,” she says.
“People who have or are showing signs of dementia can also do these things, which may help to slow the progression of their dementia.”
Click here to download the full report.
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