Dementia now in decline!

Good news! Recent information reveals that Dementia risk is declining.

Some encouraging news in the battle against Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia: The rate at which older Americans are getting these conditions is declining. That's according to a study published Monday inJAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers say one reason for the improved outlook is an increase in education. The study used data gathered in two snapshots, one in 2000 and another in 2012, that each looked at more than 10,000 Americans who were at least 65 years old. In the first snapshot, 11.6 percent of them had some form of dementia. In the second snapshot, it was 8.8 percent. Put in more human terms, "that's well over a million people who don't have dementia, who would have had it if the rates had stayed the same as 2000 rates," says John Haaga, who directs the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute on Aging, which funded the study.

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Could loneliness play a role in causing Alzheimer's?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

We could ask, for our study of dementia, does loneliness lead to the physical condition (Higher Cortical Amyloid Burden) that is a symptom of Alzheimer's? Or, do people with Alzheimer's grow lonely due to their decreasing ability to interact with others?

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that loneliness may be a cause as well as a result of Alzheimer's.

Loneliness is a debilitating condition. Since the majority of people with dementia are older adults, and since older adults are often isolated from society due to health issues or retirement, it stands to reason that they may deal with loneliness everyday.

The idea offered in this blog post is simple: If we know an older person who is alone a lot, let's reach out and visit. It is a simple way we can help them to be in better health.

Avoiding Alzheimer's

The bad news is that one in nine people age 65 and older in America has Alzheimer's, and about one-third of people 85 and older have it. (ref)

The good news is that studies are showing ways to decrease your risk of becoming one of those people.

One of these, the Zutphen Elderly Study, found that those with the highest total fat intake had a 240 percent higher risk of developing dementia. High saturated fat intake increased risk 90 percent and high cholesterol intake increased risk 70 percent.

Examples of foods with saturated fat are: fatty beef, pork, chicken with its skin, cheese, butter, and of course, various processed foods.

A later study showed that carbohydrates, not fat, are the bigger culprit of obesity leading to heart disease that leads to Alzheimer's. In the American diet, the biggest sources of carbs are: grain-based desserts (cakes, cookies etc) and yeast breads. Another very large source is soda pop. Sugar is a known cause of memory loss. (ref)

The easiest way to avoid the "bad stuff" is to follow the WYBIWYG rule. It's very similar to "What You See Is What You Get" or WYSIWYG. The only difference is that it warns: "What You Buy Is What You Get." What we don't have in our refrigerator or cabinet, won't show up on our table.

For most of us, what we see IS what we get! At the grocery, just remember the cow who says, "Eat more vegetables!"