LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Research published online Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine provides strong evidence that rates of dementia across the United States are dropping. Based on surveys of more than 20,000 individuals, the percentage of individuals 65 years or older with dementia declined from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012. The study was based on a nationally representative, population-based survey of individuals in the U.S.
Robert Friedland, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, studies brain disorders associated with aging and treats patients at University of Louisville Physicians. He attributes this reduction to healthier behaviors that defer onset of age-related dementia.
“This work supports the past 20+ years of my research that has shown that it is possible to lower the risk of getting dementia with age. Lifestyle choices have consequences for the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as cancer, stroke and heart disease,” Friedland said. “The reason that rates of dementia are declining is that people are living healthier lives than before.”
Friedland recommends the following protective measures throughout life:
• Do not smoke• Manage hypertension and diabetes• Eat a relatively low fat, high fiber diet that includes plenty of brown rice, whole grains, fruit, nuts, veggies, legumes, beans, but relatively little red meat• Keep consumption of sugary foods low• Avoid artificial sweeteners• Practice high levels of physical activity • Engage in a lifetime of mental activity by learning and experiencing new things• Supplement with B12 and vitamin D • Practice good daily dental care• Avoid head injuries, both major and minor• Avoid obesity• Avoid excess alcohol consumption
Friedland said that diet and exercise changes should be discussed with your physician.Friedland’s research has focused on clinical and biological issues in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. His most recent research, published in Scientific Reports in Oct. 2016, revealed that proteins generated by gut bacteria may trigger Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.