Key lifestyle choices such as getting regular exercise, not smoking or drinking too much can reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline, the UN health agency said on Tuesday.
In recommendations designed to counter an expected tripling in the number of people with the illness by 2050, the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines are aimed at medical professionals, governments and carers.
Today, around 50 million people globally suffer from dementia and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year.
According to WHO’s Dr Neerja Chowdhary, other lifestyle choices that people can take to reduce the risk of dementia include controlling their weight, eating healthily and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
“As next steps, what we urge countries to do – is to include dementia risk reduction in their policies and plans, to have programmes for training of healthcare providers, so that they can provide these recommendations and interventions to people they see in their clinics. And also, as we’ve noted in these guidelines, there is still more research that needs to be done. And we urge governments to invest in more research not only for dementia cures, but also for prevention and risk reduction and better treatment of people with dementia.”
Last year, WHO provided support to countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Qatar, Slovenia and Sri Lanka to develop a comprehensive, multi-sectoral public health response to dementia.