- The researchers analyzed brain function tests from 3,142 people, ages 50 to 90.
- The analysis showed that the rate of cognitive decline accelerated in the first year of the pandemic
Lockdowns have caused the brain health of people over 50 to deteriorate 50 percent faster than usual, according to a study.
Levels of memory and cognitive function (such as decision making and problem solving) declined more rapidly during the pandemic.
Experts said this was likely due to factors exacerbated by the pandemic, such as not getting enough exercise and drinking too much alcohol, as well as loneliness and depression.
Researchers from the University of Exeter and King’s College London analyzed brain function tests from 3,142 people, aged between 50 and 90, living in the United Kingdom.
The analysis showed that the rate of cognitive decline accelerated in the first year of the pandemic and was highest among those who had already shown signs of mild cognitive decline before the pandemic hit.
Levels of memory and cognitive function (such as decision making and problem solving) declined more rapidly during the pandemic. Experts said this was likely due to factors exacerbated by the pandemic, such as not getting enough exercise and drinking too much alcohol, as well as loneliness and depression.
The pattern continued into the second year of the pandemic, which researchers say suggests an impact beyond the initial national lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, according to findings published in The Lancet.
Anne Corbett, professor of dementia research at the University of Exeter, said: “Our findings suggest that the lockdowns and other restrictions we experienced during the pandemic have had a real and lasting impact on the brain health of people aged 50 or older. more, even after the lockdowns ended.” .
“This raises the important question of whether people are at potentially increased risk of cognitive decline that can lead to dementia.”
Dag Aarsland, professor of old-age psychiatry at King’s, said the findings underline the importance of careful monitoring of people at risk during major events like the pandemic.
He said: “We know many of the risks of a further decline and we can now add Covid-19 to this list.”
“On a positive note, there is evidence that lifestyle changes and better health management can positively influence mental functioning.”
It comes as a new survey today revealed that four in ten UK adults (40 per cent) do not realize that dementia is a cause of death, despite it being the leading cause of death in the UK.
Conducted by Alzheimer’s Research UK, the survey of 2,530 adults found that only a third (36 per cent) thought it was possible to reduce the risk of developing the disease.
This is despite studies suggesting that up to four in ten cases of dementia are linked to factors that people can influence, such as diet and exercise.
Dr Susan Mitchell, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This important study helps demonstrate how the profound lifestyle changes brought about by lockdown restrictions could have influenced the country’s brain health.”
“Doing so highlights the fact that there are steps we can all take to protect our brain health.
WHAT IS DEMENTIA?
Dementia is a general term used to describe a variety of neurological disorders.
A GLOBAL CONCERN
Dementia is a general term used to describe a variety of progressive neurological disorders (those affecting the brain) that affect memory, thinking and behavior.
There are many types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
Some people may have a combination of different types of dementia.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience dementia in their own way.
Dementia is a global concern, but is seen more frequently in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live to a very old age.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports that there are currently more than 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK. This number is expected to increase to 1.6 million by 2040.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting between 50 and 75 percent of those diagnosed.
In the United States, there are an estimated 5.5 million Alzheimer’s patients. A similar percentage increase is expected in the coming years.
As a person’s age increases, the risk of developing dementia also increases.
Diagnosis rates are improving, but it is believed that many people with dementia are still undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
There is currently no cure for dementia.
But new medications can slow its progression and the earlier it is detected, the more effective the treatments can be.
Source: Alzheimer’s Society