Scientists in the US have researched how positive beliefs about ageing are linked with a reduced risk of dementia risk, including in people who carry one of the major risk genes, APOE4. The researchers found those with the APOE4 gene who held positive beliefs about ageing were less likely to develop dementia than who held negative beliefs. The findings are published today (Wednesday 7 February) in the scientific journal PLOS One.
Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“A few studies suggest a link between psychological factors and brain health, but it can be very difficult to untangle cause and effect in these relationships. We know that some of the early changes associated with dementia can happen over a decade before symptoms show, and while the researchers tried to take this into account, it’s possible these early changes could be having a negative impact on people’s views about getting older.
“Biological, social and psychological factors can all play a role in our overall health so it is important that researchers take a broad view when investigating approaches to help people maintain health and independence in later life. While we will need to see more research before we can tell whether working to change people’s beliefs about ageing could affect their dementia risk, the best current evidence points to lifestyle factors that can keep the risk as low as possible. Staying mentally and physically active, not smoking, eating a healthy diet, only drinking in moderation and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check, can all play a role in supporting brain health into old age.”