Do you rate your health as poor? Fair? Average? Great? It turns out that how you view your overall state of health can have big consequences on your health. In this case, your mental health. Researchers have found that rating it poor or fair could lead to dementia down the road.
This comes courtesy of a new study published in “Neurology.”
Researchers think that having people rate their own health may be a simple tool for doctors to determine someone’s risk of dementia, no matter how bizarre that sounds. It could be especially beneficial for people who have no symptoms or memory problems.
The results are in keeping with past health breakthroughs, which found that a negative view of your health puts you at greater risk of disease and even death. It’s true for major events like heart attacks and strokes and progressive conditions like even high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
At the study’s start, 8,169 people over 65 were asked to rate their health and were followed for nearly seven years. Over that time, 618 people developed dementia. They found that dementia risk was 70% higher in those who rated their health as poor. It was 34% higher in those who rated their health as fair.
As well, the study found that the link between people’s health ratings and developing dementia was even stronger for those who did not have any memory problems or other issues with thinking skills. Among those with no cognitive problems, those who rated their health as poor were nearly twice as likely to develop dementia as those who rated their health as good.
This may have something to do with the link between staying social and having a decreased risk of dementia. Could believing one’s health to be poor accelerate the dementia process in the brain by limiting social interaction? Whatever the case, the best way to feel better about your state of health is to be healthier: exercise regularly, and eat healthfully.