Brett Arends’s ROI: Alzheimer’s update: Here’s the latest, most hopeful news

by | Feb 2, 2023 | Stock Market

The bad news about dementia you already know. It’s currently killing 6 million Americans, which is about six times the total number who have died from Covid-19. And the figures are rising, not falling. About one in three of us will get it. Scientists don’t fully understand what causes dementia. There is no treatment and no cure. And the survival rate is 0%.

Not all the news is bad. A steady stream of research studies, published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, are making all sorts of small, incremental breakthroughs. They aren’t close to finding a pharmaceutical cure, but they are finding more things we can do that are likely to reduce our own risks of getting this terrible disease. None of them are guaranteed, but they are easy and involve no health risk. Examples? A new study from the McMaster University in Canada suggests that putting away the smartphone and the GPS, and trying to navigate the old-way—using maps, directions and memory—may be helpful. It’s hard and a pain, but that’s the point. We’re giving our brains—and especially the hippocampus — a workout. Researchers Emma Waddington and Jennifer Heisz studied 158 healthy adults aged 18 to 87, most of whom were experienced at the sport of “orienteering”—navigating and racing across an unknown terrain with only a map and a compass. The finding: Those who were most experienced and proficient at orienteering seemed better at spatial memory and processing, even after controlling for age and other factors. The study has limitations. But the results are hardly shocking, and seem to confirm similar findings in some other studies. As Waddington and Heisz point out, orienteering is the closest proxy in our modern world to the way our hunter-gatherer ancestors operated for most of human history. Another new study, conducted at the University of Otago in New Zealand and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Phy …

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