City, suburban life may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, study says

These Lifestyle Trends Can, Help You Live a Longer Life.1, Laugh more often to decrease stress-related hormone levels in your body.2, Research from Leeds Beckett University recommends meditation for 10 minutes a day.3, Eat healthy snacks such as almonds when a craving strikes instead of junk food.4, Brush and floss twice a day and make sure to keep up with your dental appointments.5, Keep your cholesterol levels low by eating lean meats, such as turkey and chicken.6. , Stay positive as Harvard Medical School studies say longevity is linked to people who are "glass-half-full" types. .7, Another Harvard study says keeping good relationships with family and friends help with proper aging.8, Research in the journal 'Psychosomatic Medicine' adds blood pressure can drop by doing leisure activities.9, Exercise regularly to assist neural cells that help your brain work accordingly.10, According to a study from the journal 'PLOS One,' hot-to-cold showers reduce the risk of getting sick

Whether you’ve put down roots or are moving to a new area, a trio of studies show why you may want to consider living in the city or suburbs as you age.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that urban and suburban neighborhoods could help preserve cognitive health in older adults. The reason is that these areas offer chances to socialize, get physical activity and receive intellectual stimulation.

The findings are published in the Journal of Aging and Health; Preventive Medicine; and Wellbeing, Space & Society.

“Neighborhoods matter. They are important spaces for older adults, and they really impact opportunities or barriers to age well in place,” said the studies’ lead author Jessica Finlay, a research fellow at the U-M Institute for Social Research Survey Research Center, in a press release. “These papers think through how neighborhoods might encourage healthy behaviors that could in turn benefit the brain, and for Alzheimer’s and dementia risks, which are among the greatest fears and greatest burdens that our aging population faces.”

Results showed that older adults who lived in neighborhoods conducive to physical activity and socialization were cognitively about three years younger than those who had very little exercise and socialization access. People with access to museums, higher education campuses and libraries — places that are intellectually stimulating — have a five-year cognitive age difference from those with little to no access to those places.

The research also showed that white adults had a larger protective benefit than Black ones. Researchers believe this likely shows the impact of broad, structural systems of racism that limit and distort Black populations’ access to such spaces.

“This isn’t a one-size-fits-all finding. We do see that access to these neighborhood sites diverges along different axes of power and privilege, including race, gender and socioeconomic status,” said Michael Esposito, an assistant professor of sociology at Washington University. He led the studies’ quantitative analysis.

Each study used a mixed-method analysis. Interviews and analysis of a small group of older adults in an urban area were compared to a survey of a much larger, nationally representative group of older adults. Finlay learned about how 125 older adults in the Minneapolis metropolitan area lived in their communities. The results were tested against a group of 30,000 people in the REGARDS study.

“Jessica’s qualitative work gave us clues about where people might have these interactions they need to promote their cognitive health, and we used that as a starting point to build out quantitative models, to see if these observations held,” Esposito said. “Using the REGARDS data, we could figure out what environmental conditions people with higher cognitive function scores experienced and what external conditions people who displayed lower cognitive function scores had in common.”

Senior centers and organizations such as Veterans of Foreign Wars or racial or ethnic organizations were some places of socialization more positively linked to protecting cognitive health. Neighborhoods with high densities of parks, fitness and sports recreation centers and walkable destinations had better cognitive health associations.

The best cognitive benefit came from museums and other cultural sites, but researchers found a greater effect for white populations.

“Moving forward, we’re looking at differences by person and by place — so for example, differences in protective cognitive benefits by men or women or nonbinary adults, by education levels and by race,” said Finlay said. “Understanding these differences might help inform community-level interventions that are more targeted to those who are most at risk, which include marginalized and underserved communities, who have higher rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s risk.”

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