Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. The National Institutes of Health is expected to spend $3.1 billion dollars in Alzheimer’s research in 2021; despite this, doctors still aren’t totally sure what causes it, or if it’s possible to prevent it; the causes may be genetic. That being said, there are promising studies that have been conducted that suggest certain healthy habits can be incorporated into one’s life to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. While these methods cannot stop the disease altogether, they can potentially help prevent your risk and slow down its effects.
Dr. Gad Marshall, the associate medical director of the Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has previously discussed whether or not exercise can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
“The most convincing evidence is that physical exercise helps prevent the development of Alzheimer’s or slow the progression in people who have symptoms,” Dr. Marshall stated. “The recommendation is 30 minutes of moderately vigorous aerobic exercise, three to four days per week.”
Physical exercise, including aerobic activity, promotes your overall health; this is something that could potentially help reduce Alzheimer’s risk. When planning a new exercise routine, keep in mind that the CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
Get Enough Sleep
Alzheimer’s is characterized by a buildup of proteins in parts of the brain; specifically, tangles (tau) and plaques (amyloid-beta). Eventually, too much build-up can kill brain cells. Dr. Marshall has stated that there is growing evidence that getting enough sleep every night helps clear amyloid proteins from the brain.
The National Sleep Foundation states that people over 65 should get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. There are a variety of mental and physical conditions that are common among seniors and interfere with sleep, like depression, heart disease, and arthritis. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk with your doctor to see how you can adjust your routine.
Food can potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, as well. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fish. Poultry, eggs, dairy, and red wine can be consumed in moderation, and red meat only sparingly. The diet has been linked to improved cognition; additionally, it has been shown to stop or slow the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Marshall stated, “A recent study showed that even partial adherence to such a diet is better than nothing, which is relevant to people who may find it difficult to fully adhere to a new diet.”
Be as Healthy as Possible
More research is needed to show if any of these strategies can definitively stop Alzheimer’s or its progression; however a healthy lifestyle is a great way to prevent dementia and disease in general. Here are some suggestions to improve your health overall:
- Avoid smoking
- Learn a new skill to improve cognition and / or fine motor functions
- Socialize with others
- Control vascular risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes)
- Be physically active
- Take care of your mental health
Sometimes the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can be confused with signs of aging; it’s important that you keep a careful eye out for the symptoms, which often appear in a slow decline. Here are several of the major warning signs:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life (as opposed to forgetting the occasional appointment and remembering it later)
- Challenges in solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion (not knowing what year it is, where they are)
- Losing the ability to retrace steps
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
At Copeland Oaks, we pride ourselves on our continuity of care. No matter how the health needs of our residents change, we can support them throughout their later years. Our dementia care facilities provide 24/7 Certified Dementia Care Practitioners (CDPs) that are experienced in memory care. For more information, contact us today or schedule a visit.