The thought of developing Alzheimer’s disease is a significant concern for older people. As the condition progresses, it can compromise the memory and your ability to think, reason and make decisions. The condition can even worsen to such an extent that the individual can no longer function in a way that allows them to live on his or her own.
Alzheimer’s disease is complex, and medical science has yet to fully uncover the causes and contributing factors that lead to this condition. In less than 1% of cases, there are genes that determine whether an individual will develop Alzheimer’s, but for the rest of the population, the causes are unclear. For the remaining 99% of people affected by Alzheimer’s, it is believed that the condition is the result of a variety of factors relating to health and lifestyle.
While medical researchers have yet to identify a definitive strategy for preventing Alzheimer’s disease, there are several risk factors that have been identified. With some awareness and an effort to take control of these areas of your life, you can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Healthy eating can be beneficial in many ways, and it can help a person to prevent or manage conditions that are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Cardiovascular disease and poorly managed type 2 diabetes have both been identified as risk factors for diabetes, and diet can help to address these concerns. In addition to that, diets that lack fresh fruits and vegetables have also been identified as increasing the risk of mental decline.
The only diets that have been studied in relation to Alzheimer’s prevention are the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. Both have shown some positive results, but it is not necessarily about following any specific diet. Instead, Alzheimer’s prevention is more about eating the right foods. Avoid diets that are heavy in salt and trans fats, and try to eat more fresh vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains and fish.
An increasing amount of research suggests that regular exercise can be one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to that, there is even evidence to suggest that it can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s in patients that are already exhibiting symptoms.
Exercise works on several levels to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Since exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent cardiovascular disease, it can be used to manage this specific risk factor. In addition to that, the physical activity promotes better blood flow to the brain, and this is good for your health. Exercise also works out the parts of the brain that are responsible for coordination and motor skills, so it can also work to keep these areas of the brain healthy.
The general recommendation is to go with vigorous aerobic exercise and to work on routines that focus on things like balance and coordination. By following a routine that has you exercising for about 30 minutes 3-4 times a week, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
While there is little evidence to support the efficacy of the many brain-training games that have been marketed to people trying to prevent mental and cognitive decline, there is something to the idea of keeping the brain active. There are mental exercises and types of brain training that can be used to prevent Alzheimer’s and to slow the decline in people that are already displaying symptoms of the disease.
For most people, it is as simple as finding enjoyable activities that exercise different areas of the brain. If you like to read, that can be one way to keep the brain healthy. You could also play strategy games, solve puzzles and riddles or challenge yourself by learning a new skill.
Continued social engagement is important for humans at all stages of life, and it is especially important for seniors. Social activity has been shown to reduce rates of depression among older people, and people with stronger social connections tend to live longer. Along with that, social engagement has also been shown to reduce a person’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Try to remain socially engaged and find things you can do where you interact with other people. Beyond just having connections to your friends and family members, you could look for social engagement by taking classes, joining a club, volunteering or simply by spending time in public places where you know there will be other people.
Even with all of your best efforts, there is no 100% foolproof way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. As you age, you need to be aware of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and consult your doctor if you believe you are exhibiting symptoms that are indicative of Alzheimer’s or dementia.