Healthier lifestyles have halved the risk of dementia over the past 30 years, according to new research from the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States.
So are you doing everything you can to avoid dementia in old age? Take our quiz to find out …
1. Do you smoke?
2. Are you overweight?
3. How much exercise do you have?
a) At least 150 minutes of moderate exercise (eg brisk walking) per week
b) Less than 150 minutes a week
4. Does your weekly diet include the following?
Blue fish x 1 per week
Green leafy vegetables x 6 per week
Handful of peanuts x 5 per week
Beans x 3 per week
Handful of berries x 2 per week
5. Have you had a hearing test for the past 5 years?
6. When did you check your blood pressure and cholesterol?
a) In the last 1-2 years
b) More than two years ago
7. When did you learn something new?
a) In the last 12 months
b) More than 1 year ago
8. Have you ever suffered from depression
9. How much alcohol do you drink each week?
a) 14 units per week or less
b) More than 14 units per week
10. How often do you see friends and relatives?
a) At least once or twice a week
b) less than once a week
From 0 to 5 points: it is necessary to make changes
You still have a lot to learn about dementia – which means you probably need to take steps to reduce the risk now.
From 6 to 10 points: it could do more
You know how to prevent some dementia risks but you could take further action to further reduce the risk.
10 to 14 points – Super expert
Be careful when it comes to reducing the risk of dementia – keep it up.
Q1 a) 0, b) 1pt
Why it is important: it is thought that the decline in the risk of dementia in the last thirty years is almost entirely reduced to fewer smokers. Stop cutting brain exposure to toxins and improves circulation and cardiac function, which in turn increases brain health.
SLASH YOUR RISK: If you need help to stop smoking, talk to your doctor. They can also direct you to an NHS smoking cessation service
Q2 a) 0, b) 1pt
Why it is important: many studies have linked overweight to a higher risk of all types of dementia.
SLASH YOUR RISK: Keep a daily journal of what you eat to see where you can make healthy changes. Attend a weight loss class for group support and talk to your doctor.
Q3 a) 2pts, b) 0
Why it is important: regular exercise in middle-aged or elderly adults reduces the risk of developing dementia to a third.
SLASH YOUR RISK: Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity, five times a week.
Q4 a) 2pts, b) 0
Why it is important: research shows that diet can make a big difference in reducing the risk of dementia. A study conducted by the University Medical Center in the United States found that by following the "MIND diet" they devised and sticking to their recommended portions of key foods to stimulate the brain, it could reduce the risk of Alzheimer's by more than 50% .
It is believed that the fats found in fatty fish such as salmon and nuts are particularly protective.
SLASH YOUR RISK: Eat the foods listed above, at the weekly frequency indicated for maximum brain protection.
Q5 a) 1pt, b) 0
Why it is important: after the age of 40, the treatment of hearing loss would have the greatest impact on dementia rates in general of any intervention, with a drop of almost 10% if the problem is solved.
The loss of hearing is thought to trigger biological changes in the brain that weaken its resistance to damage. Deafness can often lead to people becoming more isolated and depressed – both are strongly linked to dementia.
SLASH YOUR RISK: If you are worried about your audition, talk to your doctor about a free check or visit: hiddenhearing.co.uk
Q6 a) 1pt, b) 0
Why it is important: to diagnose and treat hypertension could help prevent one in 50 cases of dementia. Uncontrolled hypertension constricts the blood vessels in the brain, reducing the flow in some areas which can therefore be damaged or even die. Meanwhile, untreated high cholesterol levels have been associated with a 60-70% higher risk of dementia.
SLASH YOUR RISK: If you are over 40, your family doctor should invite you to check your cholesterol, weight and blood pressure regularly. If your parents haven't been checked for two years, make an appointment.
Q7 a) 1pt, b) 0
Why it is important: learning a new skill is designed to increase brain networks and protect it from damage caused by dementia as we age.
SLASH YOUR RISK: It is never too late to study: read books on new subjects or try to learn a tool or a new language.
Q8 a) 0, b) 2pts
Why it is important: having depression can almost double the risk of developing dementia later in life. The good news is that the treatment can also prevent dementia.
SLASH YOUR RISK: If you suffer from a low mood that is affecting your daily life, don't just ignore it: talk to your general practitioner who can prescribe you drugs or advise you as a consultant.
Q9 a) 0, b) 2pts
Why it is important: drinking more than 14 recommended alcohol units per week can lead to brain damage that can increase the risk of developing dementia.
SLASH YOUR RISK: If you drink five or more days a week, try having at least two days without alcohol. Visit drinkaware.co.uk for advice.
Q10 a) 1pt, b) 0
Why it is important: reducing social isolation in old age can reduce the risk of dementia. The researchers believe this is due to the fact that socialization gives the brain regular training and fights against stress and feelings of isolation – all factors that reduce the risk of dementia.
SLASH YOUR RISK: Make the effort to see friends at least weekly. If you feel lonely, look for new ways to meet new people, join a book club or choir, or join a local network like nextdoor.co.uk.