“I feel older than I am”: is this a sign of dementia?

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A study reveals new findings on the link between perceived age and dementia.
Many people associate dementia with old age. But “younger” people can also be affected by the cognitive disease. According to a recent study, people who feel older may be sicker because they are physically older.

Age is diverse
How is this possible? This is what the Swedish study by Sara Hägg and Jonathan Mak attempts to explain. They demonstrated that the number of years of life, or chronological age, differs significantly from biological age. “People age at different rates, and therefore chronological age is a very imprecise measure for research,” says Hägg. However, scientists have so far increasingly focused on the latter.

Biological data used
The researchers used the biological data of 325,000 people between 40 and 70. Over nine years, values such as blood lipids, lung function, BMI, blood sugar and blood pressure were compared.

The chronological age said little about the actual aging or disease process. At the same time, biological age did play a role. Biologically, older people (as measured by biomarkers) were found to have a significantly higher risk of dementia and strokes. Specifically, “If a person’s biological age is five years higher than their actual age, there is a 40 percent higher risk,” says Jonathan Mak.

Lifestyle has an influence
How quickly you age is primarily due to your genetic makeup. Lifestyle, social environment and psychological factors also influence how quickly cell renewal occurs, which should not be underestimated. The fact that age is just a number can be proven on several levels in this study.

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