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Journal Article

Lifestyle and memory in the elderly

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Flöel, A., Witte, V., Lohmann, H., Wersching, H., Ringelstein, E. B., Berger, K., et al. (2008). Lifestyle and memory in the elderly. Neuroepidemiology, 31(1), 39-47. doi:10.1159/000137378.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0018-9593-C
Background: Healthy lifestyle has been associated with a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, but its relationship with memory functions is still inconclusive. This study aims to analyze the association between a composite lifestyle index and memory performance. Methods: In this cross-sectional survey, 198 healthy individuals (aged 65–84 years) underwent tests of verbal episodic memory. A composite lifestyle index was calculated that included the following lifestyle dimensions: physical exercise, dietary habits, BMI, smoking and alcohol consumption. The healthiest behavior was defined as: a BMI <22; a diet high in fruits, vegetables, wholemeal/low-fat foods and unsaturated fatty acids; energy expenditure through physical activity >13,000 kcal/week; a history of never smoking; an alcohol consumption of 4–10 drinks per week. Results: Linear regression analysis revealed that a high lifestyle index score was associated with a better memory score (after adjusting for age, sex, education and blood pressure). The composite index had a stronger relationship with memory scores than single factors. Conclusions: This cross-sectional study revealed that a healthy lifestyle, assessed by a simple composite index, is related to better memory performance in healthy elderly individuals. Our findings point to the importance of a comprehensive modulation of lifestyle factors when finding ways to preserve memory functions in the elderly.