The conversations of life

Could embracing ‘getting old’ cut your risk of dementia? Yes, according to science


People who have a positive view of old age are 44 per cent less likely to develop dementia – even if you carry a gene that put you at a higher risk for it – according to a Yale University study.

It looked at nearly 5,000 people without dementia – average age 72 – with 26 per cent carrying the APOE-e4 gene and found carriers with a positive attitude about ageing had only a 2.7 per cent risk of developing dementia compared to 6.1 per cent for those with negative beliefs.

Why would this be the case?

The researchers say people with more negative views of ageing show higher levels of stress which has been linked to the development of dementia.

While more study is needed, it’s interesting the belief that you are ‘old’ and ‘useless’ could have a negative impact on your health.

Dementia affects around one in 10 Australians aged over 65, but by 85, this increases to one in three.

There are already plenty of steps you can take to lower your dementia risk, including staying physically and mentally active, not smoking, eating a healthy diet and monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol.

Could it be worth adding throwing out those old ageist stereotypes too?

Annie Donaldson

With a background in nursing, Annie has spent over 20 years working in the health industry, including the coordination of medical support for international TV productions and major stadium events, plus education campaigns with a number of national health organisations. In recent years, she has also taken time out of the workforce to be a full-time carer, giving her first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of this role.

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