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Preventing the big D

Dementia has become a key issue in our community, and many of us ask, ‘how can I prevent dementia, or at the very least delay it?’. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution. Dementia is a gradual process which, somewhat surprisingly, may begin even in mid- rather than late-life. In addition, our so-called, 'cognitive reserve' or brain "resilience" can depend on factors while in the womb and in early life.

This makes researching the condition challenging, and a major international research effort is underway to identify risk factors as well as early indicators of disease, and therefore potential targets for prevention.

Recent research has suggested 9 key risk factors for dementia at different life stages that may be helpful in reducing risk; low educational level in childhood, hearing loss, hypertension, obesity, smoking, depression, physical inactivity, social isolation, and diabetes (Frankish and Horton, 2017). Keeping a watchful eye on risk factors as they arise and early intervention could well hold the key to lowering dementia rates, and a full, active life for many.

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