Where you live is a factor in your dementia risk

A study has found people who live in more affluent areas have superior memories and a lower risk of developing dementia

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HOME TIME: people who live in more affluent areas have a lower risk of developing dementia.

HOME TIME: people who live in more affluent areas have a lower risk of developing dementia.

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Healthy lifestyle habits a key factor in reducing or delaying your risk of developing dementia

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A Monash University study has found people who live in more affluent areas have superior memories and a lower risk of developing dementia.

The study has highlighted the need for better facilities in disadvantaged areas to promote healthy lifestyle habits and help curtail the growing burden of dementia.

It analysed data collected between 2016 and 2020 from the longitudinal, population-based Healthy Brain Project from the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health incorporating 4656 participants aged between 40 and 70 years without dementia.

The study found that higher neighbourhood-level socioeconomic status (n-SES) was associated with superior memory and lower dementia risk scores.

With dementia the second leading cause of death among Australians and up to 40 per cent of dementia cases potentially preventable, the study identifies that more research, resource and efforts were needed for the lower n-SES to have a preventative impact.

Lead author Associate Professor Matthew Pase said a multi-faceted approach was needed to address some of the results.

"With healthy lifestyle habits a key factor in reducing or delaying your risk of developing dementia, it is important for everyone to have access to local facilities such as gyms and public pools, green spaces and health care, but unfortunately that is not always the case," Associate Prof Pase said.

"More research is needed to better understand the barriers for people so that informed solutions can be delivered at a community level to address the inequalities."

Dementia Australia said the term "dementia" was used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses that cause a progressive decline in a person's functioning.

Dementia can happen to anybody but is more common after the age of 65 and there is no cure.

"With dementia predicted to cost Australia more than $18.7 billion in 2025, it is important that everyone has the same opportunity to take ownership of their health," Associate Prof Pase said.

The findings were published in the JAMA Network Open journal.

Read the full paper in JAMA Network Open journal titled: Analysis of Neighborhood-level Socioeconomic Measures and Cognition and Dementia in Australian Adults.

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