A presentation to the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference held in Chicago in July 2020 reported that flu (influenza) and pneumonia vaccinations are associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
One group of researchers looked back at medical records of thousands of Americans and found that those who had been vaccinated against seasonal flu were significantly less likely to have subsequently developed Alzheimer’s dementia. This association was strongest among people who had started with vaccination programs earlier - around age 60 - and in those who had regularly been vaccinated.
Another group showed that vaccination for pneumonia had similar impacts.
It is well accepted that people living with dementia have poorer outcomes (they stay unwell longer, experience more negative long term impacts and are more likely to die) from and may be more susceptible to these illnesses than those who do not live with it so its extra important those illnesses be prevented.
It may be that people who are able to easily access or seek vaccination have better health literacy (are better able to interpret health advice and understand their own health needs) or are generally more preventive-health focussed so that they also eat appropriately for their age and remain active as those are well known to help reduce dementia risk as my books outline.
But the take out message: vaccination against seasonal flu and where recommended, pneumonia, looks like it’s an inexpensive and accessible way to help reduce your risk of experiencing Alzheimer’s dementia.
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