This week we lost at least two celebrities to dementia.  Teen heartthrob David Cassidy, and AC/DC founder Malcolm Young both lost their battle.  So where are we in the battle against Alzheimer’s and dementia?

MSU researcher Dr. Scott Counts has spent a career in the trenches fighting Alzheimer’s disease.  Dr. Counts was our guest on the WBCK Morning Show, “Miles For Memories Moment” on Tuesday, November 21st.

Dr. Counts said they still don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s, but that the good news is that we’re getting closer to understanding a lot of the risk factors and genetic factors that predispose a person to getting the disease.

Dr. Counts said that genetic tests can show if a person will be pre-disposed to have Alzheimer’s.  The test is similar to those used to indicate if a person has Huntington’s disease.   But Dr. Counts said only three to five percent of Alzheimer’s cases can be linked to a genetic mutation.

He says new data coming from a huge study shows that about 35 percent of all dementia are attributable to nine risk factors.  These range from the level of education a person has, to sleep habits, and even hearing ability.

Here are the nine risk factors identified:

  1. Lack of Education. Finishing High School could be considered “protective.”
  2. Hypertension
  3. Obesity
  4. Hearing Loss
  5. Depression
  6. Diabetes
  7. Physical inactivity
  8. Social isolation
  9. Smoking

Dr. Counts will be presenting at Miles For Memory’s Community Thank you Celebration on Jan 19, 2018 at North Pointe Woods.  He will be back in Battle Creek again for a community research update in April, 2018.