There is a lot of discussion in the eldercare community these days regarding Alzheimer’s, or the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. With the advancements in medical technology, people are living longer than in past generations. It seems like a lot of folks may be able to physically get around better, but have more challenges with mental health issues such as symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is the progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to generalized degeneration of the brain.
According to WebMD, the biggest risk factor attributed to Alzheimer’s is aging. Statistics show that one out of eight people age 65 and older have it. Genetics can be a factor in determining whether you will develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but not a certainty. A smaller subset of people can develop early on-set Alzheimer’s in their 40’s or 50’s and although rare, at an earlier age.
Unfortunately at this time, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s but that’s not the end of the story. Because of the rapidly increasing number of people that are developing the disease, some researchers are shifting their focus towards prevention instead of a cure. We are learning more about strategies that can be implemented to prevent or delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. These strategies listed below, are lifestyle choices to keep your mind strong to last longer.
Sleep – A restful night’s sleep on a regular basis is essential for you to operate at optimal capacity. There are differing opinions on the number of hours required to achieve a good night’s sleep. The range I see most often is between 7 and 9 hours per night.
Food & hydration – Mild dehydration has been linked to declines in brain functions, so make sure to stay hydrated. Eating a heart healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats, will also protect your brain. Other foods rich in antioxidants such as blueberries, pecans, russet potatoes, green tea and cranberries, may help remove toxins from your system to protect important cells.
Exercise – Studies show that physical exercise reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 50 percent. Fitness coaches recommend 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 times per week. This is not a hard and fast rule, do what you can when you can. The type and amount of exercise will vary depending on your age, current activity level and health. Take it in moderation. The idea is to incorporate more exercise in your daily routine. Small things like, taking your dog for a walk, parking at the end of a parking lot, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, will get you moving in the right direction.
Mental stimulation – Keep those neurons firing and producing new cells by learning something new. Take a class to learn a new language or to learn how to play a musical instrument. Play board games, work a crossword puzzle or go online to find a website that has brain games or exercises. There are also many brain game apps to choose from on smart phones.
Vitamins, minerals & herbal supplements – Vitamins B12, D, folic acid, fish oil and magnesium are believed to provide healthy brain benefits. Studies on herbal supplements such as ginkgo biloba, coenzyme Q10 and turmeric, suggested that they may also provide benefits to the prevention or delay of symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but you should talk to your doctor before you begin a regimen of herbal supplements.
Reduce stress – Chronic or severe stress has a damaging effect on the brain. It can shrink cells and prevent new cell growth in the memory area of the brain called the hippocampus, which increases the risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine such as, deep breathing, meditation, a walk in the park, or a soothing bath.
Active social life – We as humans are highly social and need interaction with one another. As we get older, we may become isolated for many reasons. Studies have shown that the more we interact with others, the better we perform on cognitive and memory tests. So stayed connected! Talk to family and friends via phone or social media. Join a group or association and meet new people. Get to know your neighbors.