The WHO has posted 12 ways to reduce 12 risk factors on Dementia with their solutions on their website last week. These guidelines review existing evidence on the most significant lifestyle-related risk factors for dementia and take each of these factors into account when issuing recommendations for prevention.
The authors aimed the recommendations at healthcare providers worldwide, but they hope that the guidelines will present a reliable source of information for governmental organizations too, helping them draft better prevention and care policies.
These possible factors are: low levels of physical activity, smoking, a poor diet, alcohol misuse, insufficient or impaired cognitive reserve (the brain’s ability to compensate for neural problems), lack of social activity, unhealthy weight gain, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia (unhealthy cholesterol levels), depression, and hearing loss.
While the WHO used the guidelines primarily to issue recommendations on how to address each of these potential factors, they also considered whether there is sufficient, strong evidence that tackling these risk factors can help stave off dementia. In doing so, they found that there is moderate evidence in support of the notion that being more physically active and following a Mediterranean-style diet can play a protective role against cognitive decline. The same goes for cutting down alcohol consumption.
“The existence of potentially modifiable risk factors means that prevention of dementia is possible through a public health approach, including the implementation of key interventions that delay or slow cognitive decline or dementia,” the official WHO document maintains, explaining that the organization’s action plan for improving global health outcomes lists dementia management as a top priority:
“The goal of the action plan is to improve the lives of people with dementia, their carers, and families while decreasing the impact of dementia on them as well as on communities and countries.”