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Lifestyle vs dementia – encouraging new research

In her latest News Space blog, Age Space’s Annabel James looks at news and views about dementia, elderly care and carers…

Tons of new research is going on out there into ageing, dementia and what we can do about it. We’ve sifted through the latest studies for you.

Lifestyle is really important

More and more evidence is emerging that a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, not smoking and watching alcohol intake could reduce the risk of dementia. That’s even in those with a genetic predisposition to such conditions.

Dementia is the leading cause of death for women in England. Many studies have indicated that lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of developing such conditions. A recent report suggested that a third of cases could be prevented by tackling factors such as exercise, blood pressure, hearing and diet. To read more about this, check out The Guardian’s article.

So how much walking does it take to keep your brain resilient against Alzheimer’s? Researchers have discovered the ideal amount of daily moderate exercise needed to protect the brain against tissue loss and cognitive decline is 8,900 steps, or around 4.5 miles. Read more here

Gender clues to dementia and Alzheimer’s

Meanwhile there are new biological clues to why women may be more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s disease, and how this most common form of dementia varies by sex.

At the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles, scientists offered evidence that the disease may spread differently in the brains of women than in men. Read more here.

Play that funky music!

Music makes you feel better as you get older. And the older you are the better it works!

However, its positive effect is enhanced if you have chosen what to listen to yourself, boffins at Queen’s University in Belfast suggest.

And this in turn shows that as people get older their ability to reduce their negative feelings, and prolong their positive feelings improves. More on this here

And if someone you know is going into hospital, it seems playing soothing music to patients before anaesthetising them for surgery could calm their nerves as much as conventional drugs – but with fewer side effects.

US scientists found that patients who listened to a relaxing song on noise-cancelling headphones had similar levels of anxiety to those treated with a common sedative.

This suggests that music could provide a drugless alternative to treat pre-surgery anxiety, a common issue that can cause stress and negatively impacts recovery.

And finally… These shoes are made for falling!

When it comes to shoes, it’s never been a case of one size fits all. Yet researchers at Delft’s faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) argue that it’s not just shoe size that matters, but the shape of footwear – especially in the over-65 age bracket.

Well-fitting and correctly-shaped shoes can improve balance, stability, comfort and safety. The researchers call on shoe designers to consider the unique profile of elderly people’s feet. They want them to take into account that soft slip-ons and slippers which are easy to take off and put on, are perhaps the  worst kind of shoe when it comes to staying safely upright!