Many Americans in their 50s and early 60s are worried about declining brain health, especially if they have loved ones with memory loss and dementia, a new national poll finds.
But while the majority of those polled say they take supplements or do puzzles in an effort to stave off brain decline, very few of them have talked with their doctors about evidence-based ways to prevent memory loss.
As a result, they may miss out on proven strategies to keep their brains sharp into their later years, says the poll team from the University of Michigan.
In all, nearly half of respondents to the National Poll on Healthy Aging felt they were likely to develop dementia as they aged, and nearly as many worried about this prospect. In reality, research suggests that less than 20 percent of people who have reached age 65 will go on to lose cognitive ability from Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia or other conditions.
Despite the brain-related concerns of so many respondents, only five percent of the entire group, and 10 percent of those who said they had a family history of dementia, said they had talked with a healthcare provider about how to prevent memory problems.
At the same time, 73 percent said they do crossword puzzles or brain games, or take supplements, to try to keep their minds sharp. Neither strategy has been shown to have a beneficial effect by major research studies.
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