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07 November 2017

Dementia may be the 21st Century’s biggest killer, but there are ways to reduce the risk

Dementia may be the 21st Century’s biggest killer, but there are ways to reduce the risk says Coate Water Care director.

As many as one in three cases of dementia could be prevented if more people tackled negative aspects of their health and lifestyle, according to an international study in the world’s oldest and most respected medical journal, The Lancet.

Approximately 45 million people worldwide are thought to be living with dementia. In England and Wales it is estimated that 1.2 million people will be living with dementia by 2040 – a 57% increase from 2016 figures, largely driven by people living longer. But the new report from The Lancet on ‘dementia prevention, intervention and care’ stresses that dementia is not an inescapable part of ageing – and that action can be taken to reduce risk.

Clive Ballard, professor of age-related diseases at the University of Exeter medical school and a co-author of the report, suggests individuals should try to follow a Mediterranean diet, maintain a healthy weight and keep an eye on their blood pressure.

“As the report notes, some of the health related factors require medical solutions,” says Jamie Smith, Coate Water Care’s Projects and Development Director, “but many of the recommended measures for fighting the onset of dementia reflect the everyday programme of activities for people at our residential homes, including bespoke exercise, tailored social events and a carefully controlled diet.”

In total, the study identified nine lifestyle factors linked to an increased risk of dementia.

  • Mid-life hearing loss – responsible for 9% of the risk
  • Failing to complete secondary education – 8%
  • Smoking – 5%
  • Failing to seek early treatment for depression – 4%
  • Physical inactivity – 3%<
  • Social isolation – 2%
  • High blood pressure – 2%
  • Obesity – 1%
  • Type 2 diabetes – 1%

These risk factors – which are described as potentially modifiable – add up to 35%. “That means more than a third of dementia cases could, at least in theory, be prevented,” says Jamie Smith. “The authors of the report pointed out that an intervention that delayed dementia onset and progression by even a year could decrease the number of people with dementia worldwide in 2050 by nine million.”

“Dementia is currently set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer,” he concludes. “What The Lancet report highlights is the fact that we all need to be aware of the risks and start making positive lifestyle changes.”

To find out about residential care for people living with dementia or to arrange a visit to any of Coate Water Care’s outstanding care homes, please contact our ‘Welcome Team’ on 01793 821200.

Download a copy of one of our home brochures.

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