A rise in people taking up higher education may have a positive impact to fight off dementia, a leading expert has said.
Professor June Andrews told an audience at Edinburgh International Book Festival recently that the “use it or lose it” approach to brain development was key, as lifestyle was often more important than genetics in development of the condition.
Prof Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University, said: “It’s a combination of genetics and life. Absolutely use it or lose it. Get out there and start doing puzzles, or bingo, or anything, just do something for your brain. We do know that if you have more brain development then you have more resistance to dementia.
Some inherited dementia is not affected by lifestyle choices but improving vascular health through exercise and diet was “really looking like it was starting to make a difference” among many elderly patients, she added.
“The idea in Scotland, where we have got almost half of the young people going to university now, you might say what’s the good of a degree in social networking but the person has been made to sit exams at a certain level so we might find 60 or 70 years from now that that might help with a reduction in dementia.”
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