It seems to me I’ve been experiencing ‘senior moments’ all my life. So at nearly 67 my short-term memory loss doesn’t seem any worse than, say, 20 years ago.
But for me and my generation every mental slip raises the spectre of Alzheimer’s such is the dread with which this disease is held.
More so, I reckon, than cancer or heart attack. The prospect of your near and dear-ones respectfully visiting your hospital bed is one thing; quite another when they search the streets as you wander abroad in your pyjamas.
It seems, however, my concern has started a couple of decades too late.
A new study published in the British Medical Journal this week found declines in mental function in 45-year-olds. It challenged the prevailing wisdom the onset of deterioration attached to those in their 60s – and as a consequence has been making headlines around the world.
University College London researchers couldn’t say how many of the 45-to-49s in their study - who had tested for an average 3.6 per cent decline in mental reasoning over the previous 10 years - would go on to get Alzheimer’s.
But as dementia claims more sufferers in an aging population, the study sounds a warning for the middle-aged.
Much more work has to be done to detect those at the greatest risk as early as possible. But it makes better sense than ever to strive to maintain a healthy body as a life-long regime to improve your chances of retaining a healthy mind into old age.
"Although we don't yet have a sure-fire way to prevent dementia, we do know that simple lifestyle changes - such as eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check - can all reduce the risk of dementia,” says Alzheimer's Research's Dr Simon Ridley.