According to several studies what we do in our younger years can decrease our chances of developing dementia.
564 000 Canadians have suffer from the disease that can cause memory loss, behavioural changes and an inability for rational thought. And in 15 years that number is expected to increase by another two-thirds as the baby boomers get older.
While there’s no cure, research today suggests where you live and how active you are impacts your risk of developing dementia.
McMaster University is shedding new light on dementia. Assistant professor Jennifer Heisz was a part of the study that looked at a group of dementia free Canadians 65 and up. They found that those who were physically active had a reduced risk of developing dementia.
“The individuals who didn’t have the genetic risk but were physically in-active had a similar risk of developing dementia as those who were genetically predisposed.”
Joanne Paltridge is 80 years old and has a message for fellow seniors.
“They should get out, even if they walk around the block a couple of times a day they should be out. I have to drag myself here sometimes especially if it’s snowing, but once i’m here i’m glad.”
The study has brought some hope. The participants lowered their risk by walking only three times a week.
But there are other factors that will increase your odds of dementia. Another recent study showed that people in Ontario, regardless of age, living 50 metres or less from a highway or from a busy road are 7% more like to develop dementia than those living 300 metres away from all of that traffic.
The Alzhiemers Society of Canada says there are other risks too.
“Risk factors for cardiovascular disease are very important for dementia as well, so things like stopping smoking, eating heart healthy foods, keeping your weight under control.”
Their main tip is to stay active and start young.
And Dr. Chambers says a private member’s bill calling for the development of a national dementia strategy is heading into it’s third reading in parliament. The bill calls on all levels of government to work together to coordinate research and improve care.