2. Spotlight on prevention
More could be done to prevent dementia, according to a new report.
Research published by The Lancet’s commission on dementia suggests that 35% of all cases of dementia could be prevented if nine risk factors were eliminated. These factors are poor education, hearing loss, hypertension, obesity, smoking, depression, physical inactivity, social isolation and diabetes. While eradicating these completely would be unlikely, it is promising that there are things we can do to reduce our risk.
For any individual, a range of factors may affect their risk of developing dementia. These include aspects of their lifestyle, genetics and environment. Many people with a healthy lifestyle will still get dementia, while others will have an unhealthy lifestyle but not get dementia. However, if we take the population as a whole and reduce all our risk factors, this research suggests that fewer people will develop dementia overall.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said, ‘Not all of the nine risk factors are easily modifiable – factors like poor education and social isolation are incredibly challenging to address.
‘Though it’s not inevitable, dementia is currently set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. We all need to be aware of the risks and start making positive lifestyle changes.
‘The NHS Health Check pilot that we’re supporting, where GP practices are raising awareness of dementia risk reduction among people in midlife, is an important first step in raising public awareness and shifting behaviour.’