As we age, we tend to worry more about our health: Is our blood pressure OK? Are we getting enough sleep? Are we in danger of contracting a condition that seems to run in our families?
A new study finds many of us are worried about something else: developing dementia. The University of Michigan research found nearly half of the 2,000 adults ages 50 to 80 they surveyed believe they eventually will have a significant decline in memory or other cognitive skills.
More than half the respondents said their memory was slightly worse now than when they were younger, while about a third said it was just as good. Those who felt good about their memory said they exercised several times a week, ate a healthy diet and kept socially active.
Among those with a family history of dementia, nearly three-quarters felt they were likely to develop it, too. And a significant percentage of people who had cared for someone with dementia were worried about developing it themselves.
More than half of the respondents said they did crossword puzzles and other brain games to improve their memories, but researchers say there is little evidence that these activities reduce the risk of dementia. Nearly half the participants took a vitamin or supplement or fish oil to improve their memory. However, only one in 10 said they had ever talked with a doctor about ways to prevent dementia.
If they did, they might hear that the best strategy for keeping cognitive decline at bay includes maintaining ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, limiting alcohol intake and getting regular exercise. In short, adopt and maintain good overall health habits and take care of yourself.