Staving Off Dementia
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Staving Off DementiaNorbert: As I age I think about my mom’s advice to me many years ago: “Don’t get old.”

Dave: Hmm... how's that workin' out for ya'?

Norbert: Some days are better than others, that's for sure. What she meant was do all the right things to stay healthy and delay dementia.

In forty years, global dementia cases are expected to triple, and despite all the medical advances, there’s still no magic pill to prevent it.

The upside is that epidemiological studies show we each can delay our own mental decline.

Enough studies have linked dementia with low physical and mental activity, obesity, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. One recent study reinforced the strong correlation between exercise and a robust mind. Walking, running, and weight lifting are all effective.

A lot of older Americans now use computer games to pump up their minds. A study did show that playing improved their language and reasoning skills for at least a year. Other studies, though, indicate that the positive effects decline with age.

Many people believe in nutritional supplements. While there’s no conclusive evidence they work, in a few cases they do. For example, in people with nutritional deficiencies vitamins do improve cognitive abilities, especially B-12 and folic acid.

But people who have normal levels of these vitamins and take more in the form of supplements don’t experience a delay of cognitive impairment. In fact, mega doses of supplements can be toxic.

One study found that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil has a small effect on verbal abilities but no effect on motor skills or memory.

So, for now your best bet is what you hear most often: get physical and mental exercise, and maintain a healthy diet and weight.

For more information…

Lifestyle change and the prevention of cognitive decline and dementia: what is the evidence?
From the article: “Effective pharmaceutical treatment of dementia is currently unavailable. Epidemiological work has, however, identified modifiable lifestyle factors, such as poor diet and physical and cognitive inactivity, that are associated with the risk of dementia. These factors may be useful targets for the prevention of cognitive impairment and dementia. Much recent research has, therefore, adopted an interventional focus. We review this work, highlight some methodological limitations, and provide recommendations for future research.”

Prevention and Risk of Alzheimer's and Dementia
Alzheimer's Association website with extensive links to research and prevention information about dementia and its diagnosis.

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Forms of Dementia
Well respected WebMD website with a wealth of useful information.