The one word that seems to pop up most when talking about Alzheimer’s disease is Prevention. How do we prevent this disease from either occurring in ourselves or to our loved ones? There are research reports every year on the best ways to help reduce the affects of Alzheimers. Most scientists that participated in these studies agree that changing just a few lifestyle choices can make a huge difference in preventing the disease to develop in your brain. These changes are even simple to do, such as changing the kinds of foods you eat, increasing your level of exercise on a daily basis, and lowering your stress level. All of these can be a big factor in reducing your risk of the disease. But it takes motivation and a lot of effort. Yet don’t lose faith, these changes are small and can easily be accomplished with the right support from both your family and friends, and with your doctor’s encouragement. Below are 10 ways to prevent Alzheimers and help you live a long and healthy life. Remember, it is never too early to start, or too late, to help boost your cognitive health.
1. Stop smoking
One of the most preventable risk factors to keep Alzheimers at bay is to stop smoking. Research by the Alzheimersorganization.org, found that smokers who are 65 and over have an almost 80 percent higher risk of Alzheimers than individuals that have never smoked. However, once you stop smoking, your brain will actually start improving blood circulation within an hour. If you do need help to stop smoking, there are plenty of aids to assist you. There may even be a stop smoking helpline in your area.
2. Stimulating your brain
Mental health is just as important to the body as physical health. So, when it comes to Alzheimers, exercising your brain can not only improve your cognitive health, it can also reduce the chances or even prevent the disease as well. Just spending 20 minutes, three times a week on mental health exercises can help reduce the development of Alzheimers by nearly 70 percent. Examples of these exercises include reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles, and participating in board games. In addition to traditional games, some research have also found that playing reasoning and memory skill-based games online can improve your cognitive health. Those over 50 that play these online games may find everyday tasks easier to complete.
3. Watching your weight
For some, trying to lose weight is a challenge, unless you have the motivation or a purpose to achieve it. Preventing Alzheimer’s disease can give anyone, especially those who are over 50 that purpose. Putting on some extra pounds can become a health risk for those prone to diseases such as Alzheimers and other forms of dementia. One study shows that people who are overweight while in their 40s were two times more likely to developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. In fact, obese individuals had even a higher risk of three times more. Losing weight can prevent this disease and many other problems that could affect your cognitive health.
4. Exercise regularly
Staying physically active throughout your life can also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease as you get older. According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, exercising with a daily routine can reduce the risk of the disease by up to 50 percent. The more you exercise, the lower your chance of other health risk factors as well. Through exercise, seniors can also slow down further deterioration in the brain by creating more stimulation to your brain cells. Exercise can also help reduce the chance of a Stroke, Diabetes, and Depression in older adults.
5. Control blood pressure and cholesterol levels
It is not surprising to hear that both high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are often associated with increased risk toward Alzheimer’s disease. Some researchers also take note that high blood pressure may be one of the causes of vascular dementia. A study from John Hopkins states that seniors with high blood pressure or hypertension were more likely to have biomarkers of Alzheimer’s in their spinal fluid than those without high blood pressure. Lowering your levels of both blood pressure and cholesterol can not only be good for your brain, but your heart as well.
6. Try Eating Mediterranean Food
There have been numerous studies on the connection between dementia and how you eat. One suggest eating a mediterranean diet can provide all the best nutrients for not only healthy bodies but also improve your cognitive health and prevent Alzheimer’s dementia in older adults. The study explains that those eating a mediterranean diet had a lower risk of MCI by nearly 28 percent! A good Alzheimer’s prevention diet should include plenty of fruits and veggies, legumes, fish, whole grains, and olive oil. Having a moderate amount of dairy products, red meat, poultry, and saturated fats are also encouraged. The Mediterranean diet is both heart healthy and improves brain health.
7. Drink Green Tea
Okay, so you know that exercising can improve your physical and mental health, but did you know drinking green tea can also make a difference to your cognitive health as well. Studies show that the green tea extract has potential enzymes in it that protect brain cells, improve memory, and can boost brain health against Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses. Green tea is not only healthy and good for you, it also taste good and is very affordable too. Although not as powerful as green tea, drinking a cup of coffee can also increase brain health.
8. Eat leafy greens
Everyone has been told that eating enough fruits and vegetables in your diet can improve your overall health. In fact, choosing an array of colorful vegetables can boost your protective antioxidants and increase your vitamin intake. These foods include dark green leafy vegetables, including broccoli, kale, and even red and blue berries.
9. Limit Alcohol Use
There are research studies that promote alcohol consumption in moderation, such as red wine with dinner, is good for your mental health. However, too much can have an opposite affect on your overall health and drastically put you in more risk of Alzheimer’s disease or progress cognitive declines. According to the Journal of Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, too much alcohol can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals under 65 years can also develop early onset Alzheimers if they overconsume. In fact, it can increase the risk of the disease by nearly 300 percent. Most researchers suggest a limit of two glasses per day is beneficial, though.
10. Stay socially connected
Those who have a strong support group of friends are more likely to develop good cognitive health and promote a lifestyle of mental wellness. So, surround yourself with family that care and friends that are always there for you, and you’ll have an improvement of cognitive skills that will shine through. Creating good social interactions among your peers has also been linked to reduce the risk of depression, as well as increase overall life satisfaction. Ideas to help stay connected are going out to lunch with a friend, joining a fitness class among your peers, or inviting the neighbors over for a game night. Just make sure the appetizers are healthy for all!
Other ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Learn a second language
Another great way to improve your cognitive skills and prevent Alzheimers is by learning a new language. Although this may not be for everyone, it can help improve your cognitive health and when traveling overseas while on vacation. Studying a new language can also delay the likeliness of early-onset dementia. For those looking for an easy way to learn a language, there are several bilingual apps for seniors that can offer exactly what they need for either free or a low monthly charge.
Always wear a seatbelt
Although is the law, many people still forget to strap on the belt when getting in the car. Wearing a seatbelt can not only save your life if there’s an accident, it also may prevent brain trauma if you are in one. This can also be true to those who drive motorcycles without protective gear. The risk of developing dementia from multiples of head trauma injuries increases greatly for motorists without proper head gear.
Move into a senior living community
There are many opportunities to get more involved in senior activities when you are already living among your peers. Some senior living communities provide a clubhouse full of both physical and social events for seniors to easily participate in. These may include a workout/gym area with fitness classes, a community kitchen and dining area for special events, and a local community garden for seniors who can grow and pick veggies from. Keeping yourself active in a senior living community, both physically and socially, will help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive declines with your health.
Resources for Caregivers of people who have Alzheimer’s Disease or other types of dementias
Finding answers to your questions on Alzheimers is sometimes overwhelming. There are a huge variety of websites with lots of information on the disease itself to how to prevent it and understanding the cause of the disease as well. Here is some help on creditable and reputable government sites that can help caregivers to find exactly what they need on the disease and how to care for a parent who may have Alzheimers. Many of these resources are found through the National Institute on Aging (NIA); however, these are just a small bucket of resources for the senior to explore.
This resource is great for those who may be new to the area where they live and need help finding local help. Just enter your city/state or zip code to find resources in your particular area.
These services are for people who may need help when they can no longer perform everyday activities on their own. Long-term care is available for seniors in their own homes or at facilities designed for long-term services. Seniors needing long-term care may benefit from also memory care facilities that specializes in Alzheimer’s or dementia-related cases.
Advance Care Planning
Planning is everything when it comes to healthcare for your loved ones, especially when they are diagnosed with a disease like Alzheimers. This webpage through the NIA will provide information about getting affairs in order to answering some FAQs on the subject.
Administration for Community Living
Another great resource is the Administration for Community Living site. They offer many articles on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses. ACL provides information on services, grants, and programs, designed for both the caregiver and the senior who needs help finding care through their services.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
This site will provide publications on dementia and its effects to both the caregiver and seniors searching for information on all types of dementias. All information is downloadable and free for the researcher. There is also a sidebar with other health topics for seniors to search for as well. Some topics include types of brain tumors, Epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body dementia, and Spina Bifida, to name a few.
Another resource for caregivers is Brain Guide. It provides tips on self-care for alzheimer’s patients and what to expect as a caregiver living with a parent with Alzheimer’s disease. The site also offers help for seniors to share with their family about their journey with memory loss. The site also shares ways to prevent early-onset Alzheimers and a 30-day challenge to keep your brain healthy and active each day.
Seniors who have a plan for eldercare early, whether it be for at-home care, assited living or a facility for those with dementia, will not leave so much stress to their kids when these things do happen. There are many nursing care companies that do offer in-home care for seniors who want to live out their last years in their own home. And some do a tremendous job to make the elderly person feel safe and comfortable. However, it is a tough job. Alzheimer’s disease can be very stressful, so do not rule out special memory care facilities as well.