Psychiatric care could be given a boost by the findings of a Cambridge University study that found improved education and health may alleviate the likelihood of developing dementia.
Factors such as raising the age of compulsory education, encouraging people to quit smoking and a range of other medical developments have caused the mental ability of the elderly to improve marginally over the past two decades.
Using an animal naming test regularly employed to detect dementia, 9,000 over-65s who were tested in 1991 had their results compared with 5,000 participants who were tested in 2002.
Writing in Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition, Dr David Llewellyn, a research associate in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, and Dr Fiona Matthews, a statistician in the MRC Biostatistics Unit, stated: "Our findings are important because detrimental influences on cognitive health appear to have been cancelled out by greater levels of education, fewer heart attacks… [and] improvements in other unmeasured factors."
According to the Times Nutritionist, reducing portion sizes at mealtimes, adopting a Mediterranean-style diet and consuming flavonoid-rich foods could help to allay the onset of dementia and memory loss.