How the right friend or partner can help prevent dementia

We have long known that intellectual stimulation in our lives is a strong and necessary part of warding off illnesses such as dementia; that our environment and the company we keep can make an enormous difference.

Now new research has provided new and compelling evidence that an intellectually stimulating partner could be a huge preventative factor. In short: marry someone smart.

“The thing a boy is never told he needs to do to live a longer life – but what he should do – is marry an intelligent woman,” said Professor Lawrence Whalley from the University of Aberdeen during a recent speech.

“There is no better buffer to the intelligence.”

Of course, many of us in the Starts at 60 community are single, and not necessarily by choice. Thankfully, a brainy partner is just one of many forms of stimulation that will help.

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According to The Daily Mail, researchers studied the health of identical twins to find out how each twin’s environment could affect their brain health. They found compelling evidence that the more stimulated the brain is, the less likely that brain will be to develop dementia.

Professor Whalley’s presentation, called Dementia: How Can We Protect Ourselves?, also outlined other potential triggers for dementia.

The loss of a family member at an early age can be a factor for some.

“Studies have shown that the death of a mother before the age of five is a very important risk factor for dementia in later life,” said Professor Whalley.

“But positive parenting as a child, a longer time in education and a good childhood environment all have a huge buffering effect against dementia 70 or 80 years later.”

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“Environmental factors in your childhood, such as your father’s job status, have an effect, as does your mother’s diet during pregnancy.Your childhood IQ, your job income, your educational attainments all have an effect in later life.”

Your diet is also a key factor.

Professor Margaret Rayman, another speaker at the event, suggested those of us over 50 could benefit from vitamin B12 supplements.

She also said that we can only have 100ml of red wine and 10g of chocolate before either starts to have a negative impact on our brain function.

She also said two serves of strawberries a week or one serve of blueberries a day will have a far more positive effect in fighting cognitive decline, and that vegetables frozen while fresh will help the brain more than this simply left in the fridge.

How much stimulation do you feel you have in your life? Do you have a partner or friend who contributes to this?