Posted in Caregiving, International Campaigns, International Policies, Research & Best Practice

Dementia more preventable in Asia and Latin America

News Release
April 2019 | University College London, Gower Street, London – Dementia more preventable in Asia and Latin America

Close to one in two cases of dementia could be preventable in low- to middle-income countries, finds a new UCL study.

Dancing in Peru
The findings, published in The Lancet Global Health, found how improving childhood education and other health outcomes throughout life could reduce the risk of dementia.

“After our previous research finding that one in three cases of dementia could be preventable, we realised that the evidence was skewed towards higher-income countries,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Naaheed Mukadam (UCL Psychiatry).

“We have now found that in low- to middle-income countries in Asia and Latin America, dementia may be even more preventable than it is in more wealthy countries. If life-course risk factors such as low levels of education in early life and hearing loss, obesity and low physical activity in mid-life to old age are addressed, these countries could see large improvements in their dementia rates.”

While the number of people with dementia is increasing globally, particularly in low- to middle-income countries, there have been modest reductions in age-specific dementia rates in many high-income countries over the last two decades.* The researchers say this could be due to improvements in health outcomes throughout life that affect dementia risk.

The research team built on their previous work for the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care, published in 2017, which found that 35% of dementia is attributable to nine risk factors: low levels of childhood education, hearing loss, smoking, hypertension, obesity, physical inactivity, social isolation, depression, and diabetes.*

To understand whether the commission’s findings would apply equally to global regions that were underrepresented in the report, a team of UCL researchers sought out data from China, India and Latin America. They drew from the research collective 10/66 Dementia Research Group’s data, which used similar methodology to gauge prevalence of the nine risk factors in those countries, with sample sizes of 1,000 to 3,000 in each country.

The researchers found even more potential for preventing dementia across the globe, as the proportion of dementia linked to the nine modifiable risk factors was 40% in China, 41% in India and 56% in Latin America.

A major factor in that difference is the lower levels of educational attainment in low- to middle-income countries, which the researchers say signals hope for the future, as education levels rise.

“People growing up in Asia and Latin America today are more likely to have completed schooling than their parents and grandparents were, meaning they should be less at risk of dementia later in life than people who are already over 65. Continuing to improve access to education could reap great benefits for dementia rates in years to come,” Dr Mukadam said.

On the other hand, social isolation is a major risk factor of dementia in higher income countries, but much less so in China and Latin America. The researchers say that public health officials in countries such as the UK could learn from China and Latin America in efforts to build more connected communities to buffer against the dementia risk tied to social isolation.

Obesity and hearing loss in mid-life, and physical activity in later life, were also strongly linked to dementia risk in the study area, as well as mid-life hypertension in China and Latin America and smoking in later-life in India.

“Reducing the prevalence of all of these risk factors clearly has numerous health benefits, so here we’ve identified an added incentive to support public health interventions that could also reduce dementia rates. The growing global health burden of dementia is an urgent priority, so anything that could reduce dementia risk could have immense social and economic benefit,” Dr Mukadam said.

Senior author Professor Gill Livingston (UCL Psychiatry) added: “A lot of the findings of health and medical research derive primarily from higher income countries such as in Western Europe and North America, so ensuring that research is inclusive is vital to the development of global public health strategies.”

“While we don’t expect these risk factors to be eliminated entirely, even modest improvements could have immense impact on dementia rates. Delaying the onset of dementia by just five years would halve its prevalence*,” she said.

The researchers are supported by the National Institute for Health Research UCLH Biomedical Research Centre, Wellcome, NIHR, Economic and Social Research Council, and NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care North Thames.

Research paper in The Lancet Global Health
Dr Naaheed Mukadam’s academic profile
UCL Psychiatry
* The Lancet Commission on dementia, prevention, intervention and care
People dancing in Peru. Credit: Alex Proimos, Source: Flickr
Media contact
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Posted in Research & Best Practice, The Built Environment

Meditation & the impact on your brain

Meditation was a weekly affair for me growing up. Learning Hapkido at the age of 8, we would have meditation sessions at least once a week. Time would stop when I close my eyes and concentrate on serenity and harmony. Attaining a sense of peace within. As a child I took it for granted, it was just something that we had and we did, it was part of our lives. I never really gave it much thought about the impact it had on my mind and body. Now as I look around, more research and evidence have been springing up worldwide on the benefits of meditation. I certainly have my parents to thank for getting me into meditation as a child.

Source of image:

This video by scientific America is a great video that focuses on meditation and its impact on the brain. It doesn’t matter if you are 5, 15, 55 or 105, meditation will have positive benefits for your mind, body, and soul. Enjoy the video.

From the youtube page:

Does mindfulness training improve cognitive abilities? A systematic review of neuropsychological findings. [Preview] (Clinical Psychology Review)…

Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice (PNAS)…

Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain, UCLA researchers say (UCLA)…

The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter (PMC)…

Age effects on gray matter volume and attentional performance in Zen meditation (Neurobiology of Aging)…

Age effects on attentional blink performance in meditation [Preview](Conciousness and Cognition)…

Mental Training Affects Distribution of Limited Brain Resources (PLOS Biology)…

The American Psychological Association on the benefits of mindfulness…

Posted in Ageing & Culture, Caregiving, International Campaigns, International Policies, Research & Best Practice, The Built Environment, Therapeutic Activities

Enabling Village: Promoting social connections at supermarkets 

Yesterday’s post about seniors taking their own lives really hit a nerve and today, like a ray of sunshine, this article appeared in the Today’s papers online. It’s heartwarming to know that more is being done to create inclusion in the community.

A really great article by Dr Thang Leng Leng about a cool program happening in Singapore, the enabling village. I hope it will take off and be highly successful among the Singaporean community. An inclusive society is definitely the way to go! It’s also really good to know that NTUC LearningHub has started training 100 supermarket frontline staff to help senior customers, and especially in the areas of dementia. Good on you NTUC!

At this month’s opening of the Enabling Village — Singapore’s first community space for people with disabilities — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called on Singaporeans to continue building a more inclusive society by valuing everyone, and through active citizenship.

Source: Promoting social connections at supermarkets | TODAYonline

Posted in Caregiving, International Campaigns, Research & Best Practice, The Built Environment

Stress from negative beliefs about aging is associated with Alzheimer’s disease

Summary: A new study that emerged from Yale school of public health has indicated that stress from negative beliefs about aging is associated with Alzheimers disease.



From source: Alzheimer’s Disease Photo credit: Dreamstime

Negative Beliefs About Aging Predict Alzheimer’s Disease in Yale-led Study | Yale School of Public Health

Read full article here: Negative Beliefs About Aging Predict Alzheimer’s Disease in Yale-led Study | Yale School of Public Health