Can Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia be prevented? Two separate studies indicate that that it may be possible.
As reported by Time magazine, the first study was led by Kenneth Rockwood, a professor of neurology and geriatric medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Conducted on more than 7,000 Canadians ages 65 years or older, the study demonstrated that there are 19 previously overlooked health conditions that appear to impact a person's risk for developing dementia.
At the beginning of the decade-long project, Rockwood and his colleagues took note of the presence of health conditions not previously associated with dementia, such as skin, eye and ear problems and bone fractures. At the end of the study, researchers took a look at how many people had developed dementia. They found that each detrimental health condition increased a person's dementia risk by about 3.2%.
Rockwood told AgingCare.com that the best way for the elderly to reduce their risk for developing dementia was to maintain good health. "The best way to do this appears to be physical exercise, with appropriate supervision, aiming for 45 minutes per day of brisk walking, five days per week," he said.
This recommendation is echoed in a second study, presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Paris, which focused on Alzheimer's risk factors.
Researcher Deborah Barnes, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and her team conducted a worldwide study that discovered that seven factors-- diabetes, obesity, smoking, depression, low-education, a sedentary lifestyle and high blood pressure-- contribute to a little more than half of the world's 35 million instances of Alzheimer's. The good news: Many of these factors are controllable, leading the researchers to conclude that many Alzheimer's cases could be prevented by keeping the brain and body active.