Living longer and better

New research supports the view that healthy living increases life expectancy, but also suggests that longer lives may not mean more years living with Alzheimer’s.

Volunteers aged 65-plus for a US study reported what they ate and drank, how much exercise they did and how often they did activities like reading and crosswords. While healthier lifestyles were more likely to result in longer lives, the study also found that the number of years spent living with Alzheimer’s was less on average than for those with unhealthier lifestyles.

“While research suggests that living a healthy lifestyle can help stave off dementia, it can also lead to people living longer, which in itself is a risk factor for the condition,” said Dr Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“In this study, researchers looked at untangling the association between healthy living, increasing life expectancy and Alzheimer’s. While this study cannot fully tease apart cause and effect, it hints that living longer due to a healthy lifestyle does not mean more years living with Alzheimer’s disease.”

The results were published in the BMJ on 13 April.