– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – Improving the physical health of elderly patients may help reduce the risk of dementia, new research has found.
A study of 348,311 older people receiving home care services in Australia found the prevalence of dementia fell from 26 per cent in 2005 to 21 per cent in 2014.
The move is thought to have come as a result of new national public health initiatives to help improve the health of the population.
The project’s lead author, from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Dr Stephanie Harrison, highlighted the correlation between physical and cognitive health.
“Research consistently shows that there are measures which can be taken to reduce risk of dementia,” she observed.
“By improving our physical health, we might also be improving our cognitive health.”
Dementia describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. It is not one specific disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for around two-thirds of cases. It causes a gradual decline in cognitive abilities, often beginning with memory loss.
Dr Harrison went on to highlight the myriad factors that lead to a more rapid deterioration in physical health, including smoking and obesity, and suggested that they may have a significant impact on the onset of dementia.
“It’s likely there are a combination of factors impacting dementia prevalence so there is probably still room for improvement,” she considered. “The findings are consistent with other studies reporting a decline in the prevalence of dementia in countries such as the U.S. and the U.K..”