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Study finds dementia incidence lower than anticipated

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 15 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 16 2013 06:16:03 PM CDT

Health care officials have been bracing for a sharp increase in dementia cases because people are living longer.

Health care officials have been bracing for a sharp increase in dementia cases because people are living longer.

But a British study suggests those predictions may be way off.

A British study tracking people over 65 years of age for two decades says the incidence of dementia is 25 percent lower than anticipated.

The findings are a stark contrast to the belief by some researchers that health care systems could soon have a dementia epidemic as baby boomers advance in age.

Researchers are quick to point out while there are some people who are biologically programmed to get dementia, the study supports the belief that the more people use their brains more the rate of dementia drops.

"The individual brain cell sends out connections to other brain cells. When a person is highly educated or uses their brain very often to do a lot of stuff throughout their life they make a lot more of those connections," said Dr. Lorraine Spikol with Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Spikol says that build up of connections results in what's known as Cognitive reserve or the brain's ability to resist damage.

She says exercise, better lifestyle choices and good health care can also play a major role in keeping your brain healthy.

"Get your blood pressure checked, get your cholesterol checked, make sure your sugar is good control," said Spikol.

Spikol says routine check ups, physical activity and exercising your brain must start early.

She says starting in your 70's and 80's won't have much impact in the fight against dementia.

So grab a good book, do a crossword puzzle or take up a hobby.

Not only will it be good for your spirit but it's also good for your mind.