Dementia calculator predicts over-55s risk in the next five years

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Researchers at Ottawa Hospital, the University of Ottawa, Canada, created an online tool that predicts the likelihood of developing dementia in a five-year time frame.

Participants, who take the online test, reveal details of their lifestyle choices and environmental experience.

The calculator, aimed at those aged over 55, asks questions about diet, exercise, smoking status, alcohol consumption, and existing health conditions to generate the results.

Further questioning involves educational status, if you feel a sense of belonging, and the number of languages spoken.

Researchers say the online calculator can be used by people to assess their dementia risk.

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Not only that, if people were found to be at high risk of brain disease, then they could modify their behaviour and lifestyle choices to mitigate such risk.

By taking the five to 10-minute test (here) you might be able to change the trajectory of your life.

Risk factors for dementia

Certain risk factors for developing dementia, such as age and genetics, are unavoidable.

However, there are many ways a person can reduce their risk of the mind-robbing condition.

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The NHS says: “There’s good evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing dementia when you’re older.”

You can lead a healthier lifestyle by:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Keeping alcohol within recommended limits
  • Stopping smoking
  • Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level.

Research suggests that additional risk factors for dementia that are worth mitigating include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Untreated depression
  • Loneliness or social isolation
  • Sitting for most of the day.

The antidote is to wear hearing aids (if need be), to keep in contact with friends, and to move about every day.

The dementia calculator is based on data from the Statistics Canada Canadian Community Health Surveys of 75,000 people.

Experts stated the tool can be adapted to over 100 countries worldwide.

The research study is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community.

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