Alzheimer’s Risk and Prevention: the Cognitive Reserve

A cou­ple of recent research find­ings are mak­ing the media rounds, bring­ing much need­ed atten­tion to the high Alzheimer’s rates among Lati­nos and to pre­ven­tive approach­es based on the Cog­ni­tive Reserve — such as, what jobs we choose:

More Alzheimer’s risk for His­pan­ics, stud­ies find (Inter­na­tion­al Her­ald Tribune):

- Stud­ies sug­gest that many His­pan­ics may have more risk fac­tors for devel­op­ing demen­tia than oth­er groups, and a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber appear to be get­ting Alzheimer’s ear­li­er. And sur­veys indi­cate that Lati­nos, less like­ly to see doc­tors because of finan­cial and lan­guage bar­ri­ers, more often mis­take demen­tia symp­toms for nor­mal aging, delay­ing diagnosis.

- “This is the tip of the ice­berg of a huge pub­lic health chal­lenge,” said Yani­ra Cruz, pres­i­dent of the Nation­al His­pan­ic Coun­cil on Aging. “We real­ly need to do more research in this pop­u­la­tion to real­ly under­stand why is it that we’re devel­op­ing these con­di­tions much earlier.”

Com­ment:  a poten­tial expla­na­tion for these high­er rates? Let’s now read the next story-

Job choice ‘affects Alzheimer’s’ (BBC News)

- Going to uni­ver­si­ty, then choos­ing a men­tal­ly demand­ing job may help pro­tect the brain from the dev­as­tat­ing impact of Alzheimer’s dis­ease on memory.

- Sci­en­tists found tis­sue dam­age was much quick­er to lead to mem­o­ry loss in the less intel­lec­tu­al­ly stimulated.

Com­ment: The much high­er than aver­age school drop-out rates among Lati­nos, that then results in a more lim­it­ed range of job options, may be con­tribut­ing to those Alzheimer’s preva­lence rates.

For more infor­ma­tion about this con­nec­tion between edu­ca­tion and Alzheimer’s dis­ease, you may enjoy my inter­view with Dr. Yaakov Stern on Build­ing Your Cog­ni­tive Reserve, which can be sum­ma­rized as follows:

- Life­time expe­ri­ences, like edu­ca­tion, engag­ing occu­pa­tion, and leisure activ­i­ties, have been shown to have a major influ­ence on how we age, specif­i­cal­ly on whether we will devel­op Alzheimer’s symp­toms or not.

- This is so because stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties, ide­al­ly com­bin­ing phys­i­cal exer­cise, learn­ing and social inter­ac­tion, help us build a Cog­ni­tive Reserve to pro­tect us.

- The ear­li­er we start build­ing our Reserve, the bet­ter; but it is nev­er too late to start. And, the more activ­i­ties, the bet­ter: the effect is cumulative.

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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