Physical fitness levels may indicate the risk for dementia when a self assessment is performed by those who are either middle-aged or approaching this age group. Common choices like whether your health is good, poor or satisfactory can say a lot about future mental health for soon-to-be seniors. These are the results from a comprehensive study conducted in Finland by scientists who analyzed data for 30 years from more than 3,500 seniors. Using very simple questions, individuals were asked to self-rate their state of health when they were fifty. According to this research report, those middle-aged participants who reported they were in poor health were four times more likely to develop dementia than their counterparts who reported they were in good health.
These Finnish researchers have described this to be the first dementia study that analyzed three decades of life from middle to old age in such a fashion by using such a large group of people. Surprisingly, the study indicates that the risk for dementia was highest amongst those who not only may have given themselves a poor self-assessment of their physical fitness but also were not necessarily genetically predisposed to dementia. Such a strong correlation was found amongst those who suffered from chronic diseases.
Researchers from this study contend that poor self assessment of physical fitness has been shown to have a strong relation for predicting the risk for many other adverse medical conditions and that their results regarding dementia was in this respect not very different. Without a doubt, a chronic illness can exacerbate a person’s likelihood of getting dementia. In addition to this, every type of feeling a person experiences which include views and beliefs in the negative sense regarding their state of physical fitness and overall health can heighten their risk for dementia.
The study also indicates that subjects often gave themselves a poor self assessment for their level of fitness by being honest about their lifestyle choices. This poor self rating was an acknowledgment of the corresponding poor choices they made like smoking, eating unhealthily, not being sociable enough to their liking, getting depressed, being either obese or overweight, being poorly educated, and not enjoying a positive sense of well-being in general. While many chronic illnesses have a direct relationship with regards to the risk of developing dementia, a proven method for reducing this is by addressing the factors that contribute to such diseases. In other words, when a patient takes better care of themselves after being diagnosed with a chronic disease, they reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Similarly, researchers from Finland have drawn the conclusion from the data they have compiled from over three decades regarding the risk for dementia and state that in addition to the pre-existing high risk factors and chronic illness, a negative self-assessment of one’s physical fitness level may intensify the risk for this disease manifold. In order to address these high risk factors and mitigate them it is important to develop a positive outlook over one’s health. In short, to sum up this path breaking research, the right attitude is everything.
By Unni K. Nair