Can Better Health Care Prevent Dementia?

Several new studies presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference  recently held in Copenhagen, Denmark suggest that lifestyle changes could reduce the risk of developing dementias such as Alzheimer's Disease.     According to a Finnish study, two years of exercise, diet, memory training, and related lifestyle changes can improve memory function in older adults.   As  theresearchers presenting the study results at the conference pointed out, there is no one factor that significantly reduces memory loss but rather a "cocktail" of different lifestyle changes that can help older adults live more productive lives.

As well, research studies are showing a significant decline in dementia rates for the United States, and other developed countries.    A U.S. study concluded that Americans over the age of 60 have a 44 percent lower risk of developing dementia than older adults did thirty years ago.    Possible reasons for this decease can include fewer adults smoking as well as improved outcomes for heart disease and strokes due to reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels.    While they do not rule out the impact of increasing diabetes and obesity on health problems that can lead to dementia, these results highlight the importance of lifestyle changes.   

Despite these encouraging trends, there are more than five million people believed to have Alzheimer's Disease in the United States alone and 44 million others worldwide.   Cases of dementia are soaring in developing nations due to reduced access to health care and education.   With the number of dementia cases worldwide expected to triple by 2050,  the need for better way of identifying and treating dementia is becoming critical.

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