Think positive about old age to avoid dementia - study

  • 09/02/2018
View from behind of an adult son walking with his senior father in the park.
Photo credit: File

Those who want to avoid dementia in later life should think positive and not get cheesed-off about growing old, new research claims.

Published on Wednesday, the US research by the Yale School of Public Health looked at almost 5000 people with an average age of 72, who did not have dementia when the study began.

Of these, 26 percent carried a variant of the gene APOE, which has previously been identified as a high risk factor for the debilitating condition.

During the four-year study, researchers found those who carried the gene variant but developed positive ideas about growing old from the culture around them had a 2.7 percent risk of developing dementia.

Those who carried the gene variant and felt grumpy about old age had a 6.1 percent risk.

"We found that positive age beliefs can reduce the risk of one of the most established genetic risk factors of dementia," lead author Becca Levy said.

This made an argument for the creation of public health campaigns spreading positive messages about what it is like to grow old, she said.

The study comes after earlier research identified the E4 variant of the APOE gene as a high risk factor for dementia.

However, only 47 percent of APOE E4 carriers develop dementia.

Why the other 53 percent do not develop dementia remains a mystery that the research hoped to help answer, Ms Levy said.

NZN