Reducing risk factors like smoking could ward off dementia

Bryan Aldrige

September 16, 2011

A new study presented during the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Paris examined the idea that living a more healthy lifestyle could help reduce a persons chance of developing Alzheimer's disease, the Daily Local News reports.

The study, conducted by Deborah Barnes, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco and a mental health researcher at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, shows that being inactive and smoking, among other things, could increase dementia development.

According to her findings, 21 percent of the participants with Alzheimer's never exercised regularly during their lives. Another 15 percent had been diagnosed with depression, 11 percent were smokers and 8 percent became obese during mid-life, the news outlet reports.

"This suggests that relatively simple lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity and quitting smoking could have a dramatic impact on the number of Alzheimer’s cases over time," Barnes said.

According to Barnes, reducing certain risk levels by 10 percent could potentially prevent 1.1 million cases worldwide, and 184,000 in the U.S. over time.

If a senior is trying to reduce their risk by exercising more, caregivers may want to install a medical alert system that a senior can easily push for help should they fall while exerting themselves.