- Adolescent personality traits predict later onset dementia.
- Healthy lifestyle is an offset to genetic risk for dementia.
- Mid-life anxiety is linked to later dementia.
- The more mental activity, the lower the risk for dementia.
- All of the above
- None of the above.
I have written nearly fifty posts on dementia over the years, and I work to give you the latest information possible on the causes of, as well as ways to address, the cognitive thief we call dementia. This post brings a lot of that together in a more comprehensive summary. First, if you answered “5. All of the Above,” you are right…sadly. Let’s take the right answers in order:
- You doubtless have seen research and through your own experiences that early habits around health are positive predictors of health in later life. Researchers have assessed personality traits of 80,000 youth in 1960, and found that those who rated higher on the “vigor” scale – calmness and maturity – were 7% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia 50 years later in life. Check it out.
- A healthy lifestyle can offset the risk of developing dementia. Or flipping this around, researchers in Britain found that people who were at high genetic risk for developing dementia were three times more likely to develop dementia 8 years later than those with a more healthy lifestyle. Check it out.
- Researchers have found that people with mid-life anxiety or even depression are more likely to develop dementia later in life. Researchers are still sorting out if these mental health conditions are simply leading indicators or are early manifestations of what will become dementia later in life. Check it out.
- You have heard about the link between engaging mental activity and healthier cognition. Researchers have quantified the link: using computers in middle-age offers a 48% lower risk of later cognitive impairment; social engagement translates into a 20% lower risk of MCI; and immersing oneself in crafts reduces MCI risk by 42%. Check it out.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.