A poll has shown that more than a fifth of UK people do not think it is possible to reduce their risk of developing dementia.
The findings in the YouGov poll commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Society come despite evidence that lifestyle factors can improve the chance of avoiding dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Society recommends the following five simple things you can start doing now to reduce your risk of developing the condition:
•There’s evidence that regular exercise will prevent dementia than for any other measure we might take. Walking regularly is an excellent way of keeping active
•Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, fish, olive oil and nuts, a little red wine and not much meat or dairy
•Other conditions like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure both increase your risk of developing dementia, so get these checked and follow medical advice to keep them under control
•Avoid smoking – it significantly increases your risk of developing dementia, most likely because it damages blood vessels and reduces the amount of blood that reaches your brain
•Scientists believe that frequently challenging your brain with new things is the key, for example taking up a new hobby, learning a language or walking an unfamiliar route.
Dr Clare Walton, from the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “800,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia but with no cure yet, we need a significant public health effort to attempt to reduce the number of future cases of the condition.
“We know that what is good for your heart is good for your head and there are simple things you can start doing now to reduce your risk of developing dementia. Regular exercise is a good place to start as well as avoiding smoking and eating a Mediterranean diet.
“It is never too early to start making healthier choices that could help your memory – whether that’s hitting the gym or just walking instead of catching the bus, it all helps.“
Ruth Langsford, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador and presenter of ITV’s This Morning and Loose Women, said: “My wonderful dad had dementia, so naturally I have concerns that I might get it too.
“Like a worrying number of us, I didn’t realise until recently that there are simple things you can do to reduce your risk, such as exercising regularly. Now I try to eat healthily, keep active and go on long walks with our dog, Maggie.”
* Obesity in mid-life is linked to a heightened risk of dementia in later life, according to researchers at the University of Oxford.
They also found that the age at which a person is obese seems to be a key factor with an apparent tripling in the risk of developing dementia for people who are obese in their thirties.
The increased risk of dementia declined as obesity was diagnosed later in life, and those who were obese over the age of 70 were not more likely to develop dementia than those without obesity.