Researchers have just discovered a new clue concerning the origin of dementia, which is one of the main causes of disability and dependence in the elderly. Their population-based study in Australia found that the quality of the neighborhood one lives in may be linked to the risk of developing dementia later in life.
The study was based on health data from 4,656 people from various states and regions between 2016 and 2020, as part of a larger study called Healthy Brain Project. The participants were between the ages of 40 and 70, and none of them had yet been formally diagnosed with dementia.
Overall, the results showed that the quality of the living area and the quality of life influenced the possibility or not of developing dementia.
Environmental factors and dementia risk
The study authors found that people who lived in affluent neighborhoods scored significantly higher on memory tests. This category of people also had lower scores on dementia risk tests. These results were the complete opposite of what the inhabitants of the disadvantaged areas had obtained. The difference was particularly marked in older people and individuals with high dementia scores.
A recent study carried out in the United States also showed that there was a greater incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in disadvantaged neighborhoods. On the other hand, in the UK, other studies have found a higher risk of dementia than in people with lower personal socio-economic status.
Various factors to consider
More in-depth studies are still needed to isolate the various psychological, social and environmental factors that could be behind these results. This will make it easier for public experts to try to find solutions to this problem more efficiently.
There are still other factors that should be considered in the study of this kind of disease. For example, in China and Mexico, chronic exposure to air pollution has been found to be responsible for cognitive decline, even in young people. It should be noted that air pollution is more pronounced in disadvantaged neighborhoods, which means that it could also be one of the causes of memory problems in groups with a low socio-economic level.