Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Dementia—Are We Wasting Our Time?

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Dementia
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Dementia

For years, we have been counselling our patients that cognitive decline may be attenuated by healthy living. The usual canards are to exercise and maintain cognitive and social activities. Recently, the National Institute on Aging commissioned five reviews of the available scientific literature which were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, January 2, 2018. Here are the conclusions.

Physical Activity—16 Trials: Neither single nor multiple component activity showed benefit. This included aerobic, strength, resistance, endurance, and balance training alone or in various combinations. In one large study, “multi-domain” physical activity along with dietary changes and cognitive activity was possibly helpful.

Pharmacological Interventions—51 Trials: These included currently available medications for Alzheimer’s, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, as well as estrogen and NSAID’s. Results were inconsistent between trials.

Supplements—38 Trials: These were omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B, D, E, beta-carotene, soy, ginko, singly or in various combinations.

Cognitive Training—11 trials: Computer-based training improved results but only for the specific tasks involved. Other interventions did not show consistent results.

The point is not that nothing can work but rather that nothing so far has been consistently proven to work.