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'Climbing the Ladder' in Life Could Stave Off Dementia
  • Posted May 22, 2024

'Climbing the Ladder' in Life Could Stave Off Dementia

Have you been socially and economically "upwardly mobile" through your life? If so, you may be doing your brain health a big favor, new Japanese research suggests.

Folks who scored high in terms of "climbing the ladder" tended to avoid dementia or develop it years later than folks whose lives weren't on such a successful track, reported a team led by Ryoto Sakaniwa, a professor of social medicine at Osaka University.

“Thanks to a large and robust dataset, our findings solidify the association between socioeconomic mobility and dementia risk,” he said in a university news release.

The study tracked data from what's known as the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study, which followed almost 9,200 participants aged 65 and over from 2010 to 2016.

Lifetime changes in each participant's socioeconomic status, for good or ill, was evaluated, and then compared to national data on nursing care for data on dementia diagnoses.

Definite trends emerged: Folks with downward socioeconomic status tended to be more prone to developing dementia, Sakaniwa's group found.

On the other hand, folks who successfully climbed the social and financial ladder had a lesser incidence of dementia compared to those whose socioeconomic status remained stable.

Lifestyle, illnesses and social factors all played roles in the link between social mobility and dementia risk, the researchers said.

The results were published May 22 in JAMA Network Open.

“Our finding that upward social mobility throughout a person's life correlates with a prolonged period of dementia-free aging means that improving socioeconomic conditions could be a key to dementia prevention and healthier longevity," Sakaniwa concluded.

More information

Here are some tips from the Alzheimer's Association on how a healthy lifestyle might help keep dementia at bay.

SOURCE: Osaka University, news release, May 22, 2024

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