Real Evidence for Steps to Prevent Dementia

Any number of people want to sell you magic steps to prevent dementia. Lumosity had to pay a two million dollar fine in 2016 because it “preyed on consumer fears about age related cognitive decline.” But that hasn’t stopped the company. It’s just being more careful about falsely promoting its game to prevent dementia. Nonetheless, consumers are still spending an estimated $1.9 billion on brain training apps. They’re also spending hundreds of millions of dollars on useless brain health supplements.

However, if you really want to take steps to prevent dementia, the evidence is pretty clear. The best thing you can do is take real physical steps. Enjoy some healthy physical activity. Regularly and throughout the day.

Robust Evidence

For a very long-term outcome like dementia, randomized controlled studies are difficult. Nonetheless, the evidence for benefits from physical activity is robust. First of all, observational studies show a clear relationship between physical activity and better cognitive function. In addition, randomized studies show that physical activity helps with cognition for patients with dementia.

Mary Sano, an Alzheimer’s researcher, explained some basic strategies to the New York Times for protecting your brain function:

A lot of this boils down to common sense. Keep physically and socially active, eat sensibly, don’t smoke and don’t drink to excess. Treat your treatable conditions. Protect your head, which means wear seatbelts and helmets and use sturdy ladders. That’s because falls which occur frequently as we get older can be devastating to the brain.

So Don’t Waste Your Money

Brain training games don’t work. Brain supplements are expensive placebos. Staying active, both physically and socially, does work. So just do it.

Click here for more from the New York Times.

Steps, photograph © Thomas Hawk / flickr

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2 Responses to “Real Evidence for Steps to Prevent Dementia”

  1. October 27, 2019 at 1:09 pm, Brian Edwards said:

    Thanks for a much needed call to sanity.
    I have been reviewing Dr Dale Bredesen’s The End of Alzheimers.
    Incredible the traction he has obtained.
    What he writes is interesting but so many nostrum advised and it’s an immoral false hope he fosters with the title..

  2. October 28, 2019 at 12:19 pm, Valerie Lawrence said:

    I love the utter simplicity of this. I’m a TBI survivor (11 years out) who’s had some concerns about cognitive decline as I age, though I was assured the increased risk was not a great one. Fortunately I’ve not fallen prey to the magic steps but in my separate quest for a weight that’s healthy for me (for lots of other reasons) I’ve already implemented most of the strategies listed. I’m glad to know it’s likely just that simple! Thanks!