Canadian study finds link between dementia and wide range of health problems

Improving and maintaining health factors not traditionally associated with dementia, such as skin problems, vision and hearing, may lower a person’s risk for developing dementia, according to a new study published in Neurology, 13 July 2011.

The study investigated whether dementia risk can be estimated using only health deficits not known to predict dementia.

The study, by Dalhousie University, examined 7,239 people free of dementia ages 65 and older and found that health problems increased a person’s odds of developing dementia by 3.2 per cent. Participants were asked questions about 19 health problems not previously reported to predict dementia. Problems included arthritis, trouble hearing or seeing, denture fit, chest or skin problems, stomach or bladder troubles, sinus issues, broken bones and foot or ankle conditions, among others.

Older adults without health problems had an 18 percent chance of developing dementia in 10 years, while the risk increased to 30 and 40 percent in those who had eight to 12 health problems.