According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.2 million Americans suffered from this disease in 2008 alone. However, even with a genetic predisposition, there are steps you can take to help prevent the risk of this disease. Research indicates that conditions specifically at midlife can determine your later years.
Minimizing Your Risks
One study suggested those obese or overweight have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Speculation is that fat deposits get lodged in the brain, narrow blood vessels that deliver fuel, and eventually kill brain cells. Vital connections and volume are lost, much the same as how fat affects other parts of our body and blood transport. More motivation to accomplish and maintain a healthy body weight throughout your lifetime!
Along with monitoring body weight, exercise is also a proven deterrent. And, obviously, the latter is helpful in accomplishing the former. Research suggests regular aerobic activity for about 30 minutes per day. Exercise does not have to be high intensity; however, it should require oxygen (i.e., be aerobic in nature) to produce energy.
Consider time on the cycles, treadmills, or in the pool. Group Fitness classes, often aerobic in nature, are ideal. Golfing, tennis, and activities that require short burst of energy may not be as effective for obtaining Alzheimer’s prevention benefits. Although they do offer perks in their own right.
Additionally, maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels is suggested for the prevention of Alzheimer’s. This can also be achieved through exercise. (Notice a trend here?) Lower those numbers! Your heart will love you for it, too.
Enjoy a healthful diet. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends a diet focused on plant-based meals, such as fruits and vegetables. The dark-skin variety is most beneficial, including spinach, red bell peppers, eggplant, beets, prunes, blackberries, strawberries, red grapes, oranges, and cherries. Don’t forget the famous leafy greens. In addition to disease preventing benefits, you’ll reap the energizing advantages of these power-packed foods.
Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids and the antioxidant vitamin E might be protective as well. Craving something exotic? Flavor your meal with a dash of turmeric, a curry spice that may suppress the buildup of harmful plague found in the Alzheimer’s-afflicted brain. Speak with one of the Center’s nutritionists for additional advice on a diet low in bad fats, high in healthy fats, and still delicious.
Take a Proactive Approach
Give your brain a check-up, as you do for the rest of your body. Experts suggest taking a memory test starting at age 60. People are empowered by early detection. Before Alzheimer’s advances, victims and their families can connect and create an action plan. A better understanding of the disease and its challenges can be clarified. Typical symptoms won’t be mistaken as a lack of effort, motivation, or weakness. Psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, can be detected and treated.
If you’re concerned about memory changes in yourself or a loved one, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org or via their 24/7 helpline 1-800-272-3900. They provide a convenient diagnostic document to complete and take to your physician for review. Early warning signs may include: forgetting recent information, forgetting simple words, putting things in unusual locations, and losing track of steps in an everyday process such as dialing a phone number.
Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
More modifiable risk factors associated with decreased Alzheimer’s disease include increasing time spent doing mentally and socially engaging activities. Do puzzles, read mysteries, learn a new hobby, and develop a strong purpose in life. Older persons who can identify personally meaningful and goal-driven activities are less likely to suffer from this disease. The biological basis for this finding is unclear. Perhaps it is linked with a positive spirit’s overall improvement of the body’s immune system.
Those who are self-disciplined, productive, and conscientious by nature tend to ward off symptoms of cognitive impairment later in life. Anxiety and depression can predispose you to Alzheimer’s. Don’t deny the presence of these emotions. Confront them for a healthier body and mind, today and tomorrow.
A trip to the Center is part of a complete prevention program, not just for Alzheimer’s but also countless other diseases and conditions. Take advantage of all aspects—fitness, nutrition, and social—and live your healthiest always. Here’s to pumping up the brain power!
“Afraid You’ll Get Alzheimer’s? How to Lower the Odds,” Sarah Baldauf, US News & World Report, www.USNews.com.
“Fight Alzheimer’s by Finding Purpose” at www.ThirdAge.com.
“5 Ways to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease” at www.ThirdAge.com.
“Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Empowers People,” Angela Lunde at www.MayoClinic.com.
Remember (finger): www.flickr.com/photos/tidalotter
Woman with puzzles: www.flickr.com/photos/kafka4prez