Risk of dementia
People of all ages are encouraged to do more to care for their brains and reduce their risk of dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new brain check-up tool advises staying sharp, active, and connecting with others.
It suggests that getting regular hearing tests in your 40s and 50s is one way to avoid social isolation. However, because most cases of dementia cannot be prevented, early detection and better treatments remain critical.
According to research, there are 12 risk factors for dementia that, if modified, could prevent four out of ten people from developing memory loss, confusion, and communication problems. According to experts, it is never too early or too late to quit smoking, gets regular exercise, cut back on alcohol, and challenge your brain based on these risk factors.
Anyone can take the brain test based on the most recent research to learn how to reduce their risk of dementia. However, it is explicitly aimed at adults aged 40-50 because this is seen as an essential window for taking action to protect brain health.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting nearly one million people in the United Kingdom and 55 million worldwide. Numbers are expected to skyrocket in the coming decades as people live longer and their risk of dementia increases with age.
Prof Jonathan Schott, chief medical officer at the charity, said it would “provide a practical and easy means to allow people to take action to reduce their risk of dementia.” However, he claimed that only one-third of people knew this was possible, which needed to change.
Dr. Sarah Bauermeister, the senior scientist at Dementia Platforms UK, said several studies had found a link between hearing loss and dementia risk. “Why is not clear,” she said, “but a probable factor is they are working harder to hear conversations rather than focusing on cognitive tasks – and their world shrinks.” She said getting your hearing checked and corrected with a hearing aid if needed was a good idea.
Our risk of developing dementia is linked to our age, inherited genes, and the lifestyle we lead. Many of those things cannot be changed, which is why there is no foolproof way of preventing dementia in 60% of cases.
“It’s critical not to blame people for developing dementia,” says Dr. Charles Marshall, senior clinical lecturer in dementia at the Queen Mary University of London. Some groups, such as those from lower-income families and those with less education, are more vulnerable.
However, he stated that the NHS Health Check, a service for people aged 40 to 74, could be used to test brain health, provide advice on how to improve it, and identify those with early signs of dementia. It takes an average of three years to get a dementia diagnosis, and there are few treatments for symptoms.
“We need the same diagnostic process for dementia as we do for cancer, which means redesigning services,” Dr. Marshall explained. “We must prepare to deliver new treatments as they become available.”
Lecanemab, a drug, has recently shown promise in slowing the decline of the brain in Alzheimer’s patients.
“With 40% of dementia cases potentially preventable, there is an enormous opportunity to reduce the personal and societal impact of this heartbreaking condition,” said Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK.
“It’s time for the country to wake up to brain health and how caring for our brains can reduce the risk of dementia.”
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