An American study released near the end of last year has brought forward evidence that cases of dementia in the U.S. have been dropping since 2002. This drop of 3% translates to around 1.5 million fewer cases of dementia in the United States among people aged 65 or older. According to the “Key Points” of the study, “Increasing educational attainment and better control of cardiovascular risk factors may have contributed to the improvement, but the full set of social, behavioral, and medical factors contributing to the improvement is still uncertain.”

So what do these findings mean for Canada? Being a developed country and having a similar population to the nation the study was conducted in could lead some to believe Canada has been experiencing a similar phenomenon. But as Carmela Tartaglia from the University of Toronto says, it may not be so simple: “The total number of people with dementia is still rising. That’s a function of age, and more and more people are living longer. There’s no doubt that it will be a very expensive problem. The annual cost of caring for dementia patients in Canada today is about $10 billion, and we expect that will rise to more than $16 billion by 2031. So we really need a more targeted approach.”

There are a couple of ways you can help to reduce your risk of serious cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The first is keeping to a regular exercise regimen. Aerobic exercise has proven to be the most effective form of exercise for reducing risk. Examples of this type of exercise include jogging, biking, swimming, walking and hiking. Other forms of exercise such as weight training and stretching also have their benefits.

The second method to reduce your risk is to follow a dietary pattern recommended by epidemiological studies, such as the MIND diet researched in 2015. Many of these diet patterns are based on what is known as the “Mediterranean Diet,” that is characterized by a high consumption of vegetables and olive oil, and a moderate consumption of proteins. These styles of nutrition consumption are often associated with slower cognitive decline.

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For the full study results showing a reduced prevalence of dementia in the U.S., click here.

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