New research outlines ways to gain greater cognitive function in old age

Apr 23, 2022
New research finds a healthy lifestyle can prevent the onset of dementia. Source: Getty

It’s no secret that a healthy lifestyle leads to living longer, but new research has found having a healthy lifestyle is linked to living longer without Alzheimer’s.

As published by the US journal BMJ, regular exercise, eating well and maintaining cognitive stimulation can prevent the onset of dementia.

The research stated: “This investigation suggests that a prolonged life expectancy owing to a healthy lifestyle is not accompanied by an increased number of years living with Alzheimer’s dementia.”

“The life expectancy estimates presented here could help health professionals, policymakers, and stakeholders to plan future healthcare services, costs, and needs.”

The study involved participants aged 65 and older with no prior history of Alzheimer’s, whose positive lifestyle factors such as avoiding fast food and going for regular walks were assessed.

Cognitive stimuli such as reading and crosswords were included in the scoring system that ranged from zero to one depending on whether there was adequate engagement.

A minimum of five lifestyle factors were needed to accurately estimate the longevity of cognitive ability, with a higher score meaning a healthier lifestyle.

“On average, the total life expectancy at age 65 in women and men with four or five healthy factors was 24.2 and 23.1 years, of which 10.8% and 6.1% were spent with Alzheimer’s dementia,” the research found.

“For women and men with zero or one healthy factor, life expectancy was shorter—21.1 and 17.4 years—and more of their remaining life expectancy was spent with Alzheimer’s dementia.”

Recently, Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, published a study suggesting lifestyle habits such as napping could be linked to dementia.

The Harvard Gazette reported researcher Peng Li said “daytime sleep behaviours of older adults are oftentimes ignored, and a consensus for daytime napping in clinical practice and health care is still lacking.”

“Our results not only suggest that excessive daytime napping may signal an elevated risk of Alzheimer’s dementia, but they also show that faster yearly increase in daytime napping may be a sign of deteriorating or unfavored clinical progression of the disease.”

According to Dementia Australia, “Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia”.


IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

How do you stick to a healthy lifestyle?

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