Being forgetful every now and then is normal, if frustrating. Alzheimer’s disease goes beyond forgetfulness. Alzheimer’s affects many elderly people, yet it is not a normal part of aging. It is a complicated brain disorder that gets progressively worse over time. Alzheimer’s results in loss of brain cell function, leading to memory loss, difficulty thinking and processing, and loss of other brain functions. Research on what causes Alzheimer’s and how to prevent it is ongoing.
There is no one cause for Alzheimer’s; it is a result of a combination of age, genetic predisposition, environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and other medical conditions. Research is currently being done so that early genetic risk factors can be determined and preventative treatments applied.
A high correlation between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s has been found in studies across the nation. Any damage to the heart or blood vessels can increase your risk for Alzheimer’s. High cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke are common ailments in people who later develop Alzheimer’s. You can reduce your risk for heart related illness by:
- Not smoking
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains
- Exercising 30 minutes daily
- Reducing stress in your daily life
In early stages of testing, vitamin D3 and the Mediterranean diet have shown potential in slowing the development of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Even though these preventative measures are still being tested, they are good lifestyle choices to make no matter what.
While diet and exercise can help your blood flow smoothly through your vessels and increase blood and oxygen to the brain, other activities can help you maintain cognitive abilities. Robust social and intellectual stimulation throughout life and into old age have been shown to keep your cognitive functions strong.
Head trauma is another link to Alzheimer’s. Protect your head throughout your lifetime by always wearing a seatbelt in any moving vehicle. Wear proper safety equipment while playing sports and participating in other physical activities. As you age, make your home “fall proof” with slip-resistant pads on rugs, “grab bars” in the shower, and other safety measures.
Get a good night’s sleep. Quality sleep may not directly prevent Alzheimer’s, but as an aspect of healthy living, its benefits are numerous. Living a generally healthy life will put you at lower risk for other health problems that may be linked to Alzheimer’s.
The more you know about Alzheimer’s the better you can protect yourself and those you love. Visit Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point online to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease. Connect with others at an Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting. You’re not alone; Regional Medical Center is here to support your and your family.