Last updated February 8, 2018 at 2:37 pm
Attitudes towards aging could impact your risk of dementia.
Study into attitudes towards ageing and dementia development
Researchers studied more than 4,000 people over four years to see if there is a link between culturally developed attitudes towards aging and developing dementia.
Of the 4,765 subjects, 26 per cent were carriers of a gene variant which is well established as a high-risk factor for dementia, called APOE E4. (Of people who carry the E4 gene variant, 47 per cent develop dementia.)
The researchers found that, of the APOE E4-carrying subjects, those with negative beliefs about aging were more than twice at risk of developing dementia as those with positive beliefs.
The latter had a 2.7 per cent risk of developing dementia, and the former a 6.1 per cent risk.
At the beginning of the study, the subjects were all free of dementia and had an average age of 72.
The researchers are now calling for public health campaigns to improve people’s attitudes, with lead author Becca Levy saying “we found that positive age beliefs can reduce the risk of one of the most established genetic risk factors of dementia. This makes a case for implementing a public health campaign against ageism and negative age beliefs.”
Social interaction increases quality of life
This finding from the US follows dementia care research from the UK released earlier in the week. It showed that social interaction can greatly increase quality of life for dementia patients.
It only took an hour a week of extra social interaction for the researchers to notice positive improvements in the more than 800 people they were studying. The subjects were patients at one of 69 care homes involved in the study.
At each home, two specially trained staff members implemented simple, personalised tactics like having conversations about the subjects’ interests and involving them in decision-making about their care. Adding to this an hour per week of social interaction caused an improved in quality of live, reduced aggression, and reduced agitation.
The Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society (which contributed funding to this study) Dr Doug Brown said “70% of people living in care homes have dementia, so it is vital that staff have the right training to provide good quality dementia care. A person-centred approach takes into account each individual’s unique qualities, abilities, interests, preferences and needs. This study shows that training to provide this type of individualised care, activities and social interactions can have a significant impact of the well-being of people living with dementia in care homes. It also shows that this kind of effective care can reduce costs, which the stretched social care system desperately needs.”
More than 400 000 people have dementia in Australia, and it is our second leading cause of death.