Alzheimer’s affects millions of Americans each year. One in nine seniors age 65 and older have it. Despite its prevalence and enormous impact on people’s lives, there remains limited knowledge of what causes it and how to cure it.
Since no cure has been developed yet, researchers seek to find if preventing Alzheimer’s is possible. Currently, there’s no concrete evidence that Alzheimer’s could be prevented.
However, there are strategies and methods to lower the risk of developing it, mainly by making healthy lifestyle choices. That’s what we’re going to tackle in this article.
What causes Alzheimer’s?
Health experts believe that Alzheimer’s is caused by a combination of factors, including genes, age, lifestyle, health conditions, and environment. You can manage your lifestyle, health, and the environment you live in, but not the genes and age.
The risk of Alzheimer's is high for individuals with a parent or sibling diagnosed with the disease. But it's even higher if more than one first-degree relative has Alzheimer's or dementia.
APOE-e4 is the gene identified to have the strongest impact on the risk of Alzheimer’s. People who inherit one copy of APOE-e4 from either the mother or the father have a high risk. Those who inherit two copies of this gene from their mother and father have an even higher risk.
Other than genes, age also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. Seniors are the most affected, and symptoms typically appear at 65.
What can you do to prevent Alzheimer's disease?
While you can’t entirely prevent Alzheimer’s, you can lessen the likelihood of developing it. Here are some tips:
1. Build a healthy lifestyle
Your way of living has a tremendous impact on your overall health. If your lifestyle involves smoking and excessive drinking, you are harming your brain.
A healthy lifestyle includes good nutrition, good sleep, regular exercise, a good routine, and a positive frame of mind.
When it comes to nutrition, the Mediterranean diet is the choice of many. It’s an eating lifestyle consisting of lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, olive oil, nuts, and other healthy options from various food groups.
It also includes little to moderate consumption of wine, dairy, and meat products.
Can eating certain foods prevent Alzheimer's disease?
The body uses the nutrients from the food you eat to function. When your diet entails consuming junk food and other unhealthy options, you increase your risk of obesity and other diseases associated with Alzheimer’s.
On the other hand, eating nutritious foods, such as fresh fruits and greens, can boost your body’s immunity to fight diseases and infections that increase the risk of diseases and Alzheimer’s.
2. Regular exercise
Walking, running, and other forms of exercise are beneficial to the brain. Exercise increases the flow of oxygen in the brain and keeps you alert. Moreover, engaging in physical activity also relieves stress, improves mood, and makes you feel good.
Can increasing physical activity prevent Alzheimer's disease?
Physical exercise can reduce the risk of dementia by about 30% and Alzheimer's by about 45%. Exercise improves blood circulation in the nervous system.
Furthermore, being active during the day helps you get a good sleep at night. A good eight hours of sleep is essential for brain health.
3. Adequate sleep
These days, it’s harder to get adequate sleep because many things keep us busy. But you shouldn’t trade in your sleep for work or extra time on screens. Sleep is the only time when the body recovers and the cells repair and regrow.
4. Social connections
Many people lose social connections as they age. Due to declining physical health, older people can’t go out as often to meet up with friends or join gatherings, impacting their behavior and mental health.
Loneliness and isolation are common symptoms of depression, and depression increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. So having quality social connections as you age could help lower the risk of cognitive disorders.
5. Learning new things
Learning new things is a good exercise for the brain. It can improve concentration, attention to detail, problem-solving skills, and other memory functions.
For example, when you learn a new language, you stimulate the brain to memorize and remember new words. The more you do this, the better your memory retention gets.
6. Avoid drugs and other substances
Excessive alcohol and substance abuse can slowly damage some parts of the brain, so avoid these two. Substance abuse can lead to poor memory, psychosis, and other detrimental changes in the brain.
You can include alcohol, particularly wine, on your diet, but be sure to drink moderately.
Significance of early diagnosis
While Alzheimer’s is not curable, early diagnosis makes it possible for a person to lead a better quality of life. When healthcare professionals detect signs of memory decline at the early or mid-stage of the disease, medical interventions can improve the health situation.
With the doctors’ help, you could slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s by changing your lifestyle and making healthy decisions. Currently, there are minimal medical tools to detect Alzheimer’s early, and researchers are still exploring other means.
Usually, people with an early-onset type experience Alzheimer’s symptoms at age 30 to mid-60s. Meanwhile, signs of the late-onset variety manifest at age 65 and above.
That's why if you notice cognitive changes, visit your physician. Early diagnosis can lessen the burden on the family and the person affected by Alzheimer's.
One of the advantages of early diagnosis is getting access to various treatment options, such as Aducanumab. Aducanumab is the first FDA-approved medication for Alzheimer's.
While you can’t entirely prevent Alzheimer’s, you can change your lifestyle, diet, and routine to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
To sum it up, a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep can improve brain health. Besides that, making friends and social connections, learning new things, quitting substances, and drinking wine in moderation can help the brain be in its best condition.
More importantly, visit a physician for a checkup when you spot signs of Alzheimer’s. When you detect Alzheimer’s early, you can get access to the latest available care and treatment options, improving the quality of your life.
Syed has years of experience dealing with people, understanding their needs, and helping them find solutions to their problems.
As a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP), Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional (CMDCP), Syed is committed to working closely with Senior and their family knowing what is it like for individuals facing a challenging time, at times groping in dark trying to figure what is the appropriate next step or care level for their unique situation.
Syed and Senex Memory Advisors are fully committed to working closely with families in creating a personalized, step-by-step process memory care plan at zero cost.