Healthy living may slow dementia
Progression of early dementia may be slowed by following a specific program of healthy lifestyle habits, concludes a new study from Sweden.
For the study, scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm recruited 1,260 Finnish adults between the ages 60 and 77. All were categorized as having average or slightly below average cognitive abilities, based on the results of an initial neurological test. They also scored above a cutoff point on a list of risk factors for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease—the most common form of dementia.
The study’s participants were then split into two groups; one received basic health advice and the other was enrolled in a program that focused on teaching them about diet, exercise, heart health and brain and social engagement. The researchers collected data on both groups for two years.
After the two-year trial, the researchers found that cognitive abilities declined more among the adults who received the basic health advice—by about 40 percent—than among the adults who were enrolled in the more focused, multi-component health program.
The results of the study, presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen, doesn’t mean that healthy living can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. But it does suggest that healthy lifestyle choices may slow the progression of dementia in people who have it and could delay the onset for people who don’t have it.