FRIDAY, Dec. 30, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Certain natural environments are associated with reduced risk of hospital admissions for patients with Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRD) and Parkinson disease (PD), according to a study published online Dec. 20 in JAMA Network Open.

Jochem O. Klompmaker, Ph.D., from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined the associations between natural environments and hospital admissions for ADRD and PD among Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 65 years or older. The ADRD and PD cohorts included 61,662,472 and 61,673,367 Medicare beneficiaries, respectively.

The researchers identified 7,737,609 and 1,168,940 first ADRD and PD hospitalizations, respectively. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was negatively associated with ADRD hospitalizations after adjustment for potential individual- and area level-confounders (e.g., Medicaid eligibility and zip code-level median household income) (hazard ratio, 0.95 per interquartile range increase). There was no evidence seen of an association of percentage park or blue space cover with ADRD hospitalization. PD hospitalizations decreased in association with NDVI (hazard ratio, 0.94 per interquartile range increase), percentage park cover (hazard ratio, 0.97 per interquartile range increase), and blue space cover (hazard ratio, 0.97 for surface water ≥1 versus <1.0 percent).

“As life expectancy increases globally, policy makers should consider interventions of natural environments to prevent ADRD and PD,” the authors write.

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