Children learn early in life how important their brains are. By the time they've completed elementary school, they understand what the brain looks like and how it contributes to their ability to hear, see, smell, and think. They also learn early on about the problems that occur when brains "don't work right."
The older we are, the more important brain health seems to become. According to the Alzheimer's Society, dementia is the most feared health condition in the United Kingdom. In the U.S., twice as many people fear the loss of mental over physical abilities (CDC). Given the number of people with dementia (47 million worldwide) and the cost ($818 billion), this fear is justified... not only for us as individuals but also for families who care for their loved ones and for society as a whole (Lancet).
Research currently focuses on two fronts: cure and prevention. Unfortunately, no cure has as yet been discovered.
For those of us without dementia, however, there's progress on the prevention front.
So what can we do differently? This week, the Lancet Commission announced that more than a third of dementia might be preventable by reducing the following risk factors.
9% - Hearing loss, especially if you're middle-aged (45-65)
8% - Not graduating from high school
5% - Smoking
4% - Untreated depression
3% - Physical inactivity
2% - Social isolation
2% - High blood pressure
1% - Midlife obesity
1% - Type 2 diabetes
Together, these factors add up to 35% so the idea is... the more we can change, the more we can lower your dementia risk.
True, nothing in life is guaranteed. But it's good to know that when it comes to brain health, we CAN take some action to protect our brains from dementia.
NOTE: Since 1823, the British journal, The Lancet, has published articles related to science, medicine, and health. Click here to read the full text of the Lancet article. Click here to download.