If you have a loved one or friend who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you may be wanting to learn as much as you can about the illness. One common question is whether there are any steps that can be taken to prevent the illness or at least delay its arrival.
Although research continues, as of yet there is no cure. What we do know is that the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s increases as we grow older. Even though it is not a normal part of aging, the greatest known risk factor is increasing age.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. There are approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 that have what is known as early-onset Alzheimer’s. We also know it is a progressive disease with symptoms that will gradually worsen over a number of years.
Can Alzheimer’s be prevented?
There is currently no cure or prevention but treatments for the symptoms are available. To date, no treatment has been developed that can stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, but they can temporarily slow some of the symptoms, which can improve the quality of life.
Current research believes that Alzheimer’s is likely developed as a result of complex interactions with many factors, including:
- Coexisting medical conditions
Source: Alzheimer’s Association
Although age and genetics cannot be changed, other risk factors can and ongoing research is hoping to discover ways to possibly lower a person’s risk through those areas.
What we do know
Scientists haven’t found a way to prevent or delay dementia, but studies continue. There are promising strategies that are helping us to learn more, according to the National Institute on Aging, and our knowledge includes:
- Changes in the brain occur many years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear.
- This may provide a possible window of opportunity to prevent or delay memory loss and other symptoms.
- It’s likely that individuals will need a combination of treatments based on their own risk factors.
The following features have also provided encouraging but inconclusive evidence for their ability to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s, including:
- Increased physical activity
- Blood pressure control
- Cognitive training
Evidence for other interventions including medications and diet hasn’t been as strong, but research continues to explore possibilities in these areas.
Are there any steps you can take?
Alzheimer’s is a complex disease and the current thinking is that the best strategy to prevent or delay it will likely require a combination of measures.
But there are steps you can take to help keep your brain and body healthy.
10 ways to reduce your risk of cognitive decline
Although the evidence hasn’t shown these to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s, it may delay symptoms of age-related cognitive decline.
Here are 10 ways that are good for both your mind and body:
- Regular cardiovascular exercise
Elevating your heart rate and increasing blood flow to the brain and body may help reduce risk of cognitive decline. The benefits also extend to your physical health as well.
- Keep learning
Formal education has been found to reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Consider taking a class at a college, community center or on-line. Commit to becoming a lifelong learner.
- Don’t smoke
Smoking can increase the risk of cognitive decline but quitting can reduce your risk back to levels comparable to those who haven’t smoked. It’s never too late to quit.
- Take care of your heart
Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, can negatively impact your cognitive health as well. Double up on the benefits by keeping your heart healthy.
- Take care of your head
Brain injury can increase your risk of cognitive decline. Wear a seatbelt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike and learn about fall prevention. Take whatever steps you can to protect your head and brain.
- Eat a healthy diet
Research is limited on diet and cognitive function but certain diets, such as the Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH may lower your risk of decline. The health benefits are also well known for your body.
- Sleep well
Insomnia, sleep apnea or other causes for not getting enough sleep may cause problems with your memory and thinking. Talk to your doctor about suggestions if you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep.
- Stay healthy mentally
There may be a link between having a history of depression and an increased risk of cognitive decline. Make sure to seek treatment if you have symptoms of depression and try to manage your stress levels.
- Stay socially engaged
Studies believe social engagement supports good brain health. Find opportunities to meet new people and share in activities that you enjoy. Make time to socialize with family and friends.
- Stimulate your mind
Challenge yourself with activities that require you to learn a new skill or think strategically. Research is finding that these may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.
Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living
We join all of our residents and their families in looking toward the day when Alzheimer’s can be prevented and treated. Until then, we remain committed to providing the most compassionate care, while supporting our residents’ quality of life and independence.
We also understand the difficulty families face when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s at home. As the illness progresses, the question of whether or when it may be time for memory care surfaces.
If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and find yourself faced with this question, we hope you will consider Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living as a trusted resource to help you find the answer.
Be assured that we provide a safe and loving environment for both your loved one and your family. Not only do we offer a whole-person approach to our residents, our services and amenities also include:
- Intimate and secure residential neighborhoods
- Individual therapy and wellness programs
- Licensed nursing staff 24/7 educated in best practices in dementia care
- All-day dining with chef-inspired meals and stocked kitchens
- Social integration with others in the greater community
- Family support and education
Please visit our website or call (240) 414-8557 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.