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New research shows a wholesome lifestyle can prevent cognitive decline

Credit: Cavan Images/Getty Images

Revealing just how connected the heart and mind are, a new study finds poor health at age 50 — on measures like physical activity, diet, and blood pressure — is linked to more than double the risk of dementia decades later. The result builds on other research showing that healthy living as early as age 18 affects brainpower later in life.

For many decades, those living with dementia have been absent people in our society

Illustration: Matilda Ellis

We are all trapped by the limits of our mind. It’s not possible to see the world we live in, only minute, shuttered portions of it where the beam of our attention falls. When I was a teenager, I noticed other teenagers. Pregnant, I suddenly saw all the pregnant women, then the babies, and then the world was full of small children and their exhausted parents, full of single mothers. Now I see countless people who are frail and scared — but that’s only because I saw my father, sick with dementia, so frail and so scared.

Mild to moderate dementia lasts for years — so why not make them good ones?

Illustration: Marie Mohanna

Somewhere between a third and a half of Americans will have dementia by the time they reach 85. I assume I’m in the batch that gets it; my mother and grandmother both suffered from the disease. I don’t like it, but I’m determined to find joy no matter the course it takes.

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