Lifestyle changes can not only delay memory loss in older people with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, but at best even prevent it completely. Corresponding personalized interventions therefore offer a promising approach to prevention.
A new study involving experts from the University of California – San Francisco examined whether a personalized intervention to reduce modifiable dementia risk factors in older people can improve cognition while reducing the risk of the disease. The results are published in the journal “JAMA Internal Medicine”.
What role do modifiable dementia risk actors play?
It is believed that modifiable risk factors are responsible for 30 to 40 percent of dementia cases, the team explains. However, so far only a few studies have shown that risk-reducing measures can help, especially in several areas.
In the new study, this was examined in a total of 172 adults aged 70 to 89 years with an increased risk of dementia. Of these, almost half received individual coaching tailored to the individual person to improve known risk factors for dementia.
Typical risk actors for dementia
All participants suffered from at least two of eight selected dementia risk factors. These included lack of exercise, uncontrolled high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, poor sleep, severe depressive symptoms, social isolation, smoking and taking medication, the team reports.
Personal coaching for a healthier lifestyle
The coaching aimed to improve the participants’ health and lifestyle in various areas that are believed to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers explain.
“This is the first personalized intervention that focuses on multiple cognitive domains and where risk factors are based on participants’ risk profile, preferences and priorities,” adds study author Dr. Kristine Yaffe in a press release.
Significant improvements achieved
According to the researchers, after a period of two years, the 82 participants who received personal coaching showed an improvement in the composite cognitive score of 74 percent compared to the control group.
The quality of life also improved compared to the control group and the risk of dementia, measured by the risk factor score, also decreased.
However, when it came to serious events, according to the researchers, there were no differences between the two groups of participants. However, significantly more treatment-related adverse events, such as musculoskeletal pain, occurred in the intervention group.
Improved cognition and quality of life
Taken together, the personalized intervention led to small improvements in cognition, quality of life and risk factors for dementia over a period of two years, which is why these interventions should be particularly considered in older people at increased risk of dementia, the experts concluded.
“Hopefully, in the future, the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias will be similar to the treatment of cardiovascular disease, with a combination of risk reduction and specific medications that target the disease mechanisms,” adds Dr. Yaffe added. (as)