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Healthy lifestyle choices mean fewer memory complaints, poll by UCLA and Gallup finds
Date:5/30/2013

Research has shown that healthy behaviors are associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, but less is known about the potential link between positive lifestyle choices and milder memory complaints, especially those that occur earlier in life and could be the first indicators of later problems.

To examine the impact of these lifestyle choices on memory throughout adult life, UCLA researchers and the Gallup organization collaborated on a nationwide poll of more than 18,500 individuals between the ages of 18 and 99. Respondents were surveyed about both their memory and their health behaviors, including whether they smoked, how much they exercised and how healthy their diet was.

As the researchers expected, healthy eating, not smoking and exercising regularly were related to better self-perceived memory abilities for most adult groups. Reports of memory problems also increased with age. However, there were a few surprises.

Older adults (age 60-99) were more likely to report engaging in healthy behaviors than middle-aged (40-59) and younger adults (18-39), a finding that runs counter to the stereotype that aging is a time of dependence and decline. In addition, a higher-than-expected percentage of younger adults complained about their memory.

"These findings reinforce the importance of educating young and middle-aged individuals to take greater responsibility for their health including memory by practicing positive lifestyle behaviors earlier in life," said the study's first author, Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center and a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA who holds the ParlowSolomon Chair on Aging.

Published in the June issue of International Psychogeriatrics, the study may also provide a baseline for the future study of memory complaints in a wide range of adult age groups.
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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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