Why Education May Help Prevent Dementia
Education could play an important role in improving cognitive reserve, which is the brains ability to cope with damage that would otherwise lead to dementia, according to Oh.
Research suggests that education helps the brain develop more synapses, which are the junctions between brain cells that relay information, but were not entirely sure, says Oh. More synapses may boost cognitive reserve, which may help prevent dementia.
Another reason could be that people with more education tend to have healthier lifestyles than those with less education. People who are more educated may be more aware that smoking, lack of exercise and not eating well are bad for their health, she says, and they may make healthier choices.
Be Cautious About Alzheimer’s Cures
Because Alzheimer’s disease is so devastating, some people are tempted by untried or unproven “cures.” Check with your doctor before trying pills or any other treatment or supplement that promises to prevent Alzheimer’s. These “treatments” might be unsafe, a waste of money, or both. They might even interfere with other medical treatments that have been prescribed.
Increase Your Social Engagement
Compelling research suggests seniors who spend most of their time in their immediate home environment are almost twice as likely to develop AD compared to those who travel more. These findings, however, may also reflect the general health of the individuals.
The Mayo Clinic advises that being engaged with your surroundings is good for your mental, physical, and emotional health.
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Watch Your Blood Pressure
Healthcare professionals agree that a healthy heart often leads to a healthy brain. Be sure you and your physician are keeping an eye on your blood pressure and are doing your best to keep it at a healthy level. Take any prescribed medications, eat well and add daily exercise to your regular routine.
Targets Of Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Research
Researchers are exploring these and other interventions that may help prevent, delay, or slow Alzheimer’s dementia or age-related cognitive decline. Other research targets include:
- New drugs to delay onset or slow disease progression
- Diabetes treatment
- Blood pressure- and lipid-lowering treatments
- Sleep interventions
- Vitamins such as B12 plus folic acid supplements and D
- Combined physical and mental exercises
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Keep Your Mind Active
An active mind may help lower the risk of dementia, so keep challenging yourself. Some examples would be:
- study something new, like a new language
- do puzzles and play games
- read challenging books
- learn to read music, take up an instrument, or start writing
- stay socially engaged: keep in touch with others or join group activities
Alzheimers Diet: 16 Foods To Fight Dementia + What To Avoid
The best Alzheimers diet is Dr. Dale Bredesens KetoFLEX 12/3 diet. This slightly-flexible ketogenic diet can lower your risk of developing Alzheimers disease or dementia, especially in the earliest stages of cognitive decline.
This revolutionary diet also encourages 12-hour fasting periods so the body has more time to repair cell damage. Make sure to not eat within 3 hours of going to bed either.
By eating foods such as green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts, and even an occasional glass of red wine, you can reduce your chances of developing Alzheimers.
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Can Eating Certain Foods Or Diets Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
People often wonder if a certain diet or specific foods can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The recent NASEM review of research did not find enough evidence to recommend a certain diet to prevent cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s. However, certain diets and healthy eating patterns have been associated with cognitive benefits. Studies of diets, such as the Mediterranean diet and the MIND dieta combination of the Mediterranean and DASH dietsare underway. Learn more about what we know about diet and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information, read What Do We Know About Diet and Alzheimer’s Prevention?
What Is Known About Alzheimers Disease
Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimers disease. There likely is not a single cause but rather several factors that can affect each person differently.
- Age is the best known risk factor for Alzheimers disease.
- Family historyresearchers believe that genetics may play a role in developing Alzheimers disease. However, genes do not equal destiny. A healthy lifestyle may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimers disease. Two large, long term studies indicate that adequate physical activity, a nutritious diet, limited alcohol consumption, and not smoking may help people. To learn more about the study, you can listen to a short podcast.
- Changes in the brain can begin years before the first symptoms appear.
- Researchers are studying whether education, diet, and environment play a role in developing Alzheimers disease.
- There is growing scientific evidence that healthy behaviors, which have been shown to prevent cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, may also reduce risk for subjective cognitive decline. Heres 8 ways.
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Give Your Brain Sleep
A study by Maiken Nedergaard found that sleep is when your brain cleans up. During sleep, your brain clears amyloid-beta protein, which contributes to the plaque that is often found in the brains of people with dementia. Without adequate amounts of sleep, your brain may start to suffer from toxic buildup.
Action Strategy: Make a date with sleep. Figure out when your best sleep hours are in a 24-hour period and commit to being in bed for those times. Get yourself ready for sleep an hour before you meet your pillow. Promote high-quality sleep by:
- Turning off electronics
- Having a relaxing shower or bath
- Practicing meditation or light reading
Exercise Regularly At A High Intensity
“Exercise can protect against Alzheimer’s because it not only increases blood flow to the brain, but it loosens up that amyloid plaque, the bad sticky stuff that gets caught up and gunked up in the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease,” noted Isaacson.
Any exercise helps, but experts recommend getting at least three hours of rigorous activity a week. Ideally, that would be two cardio workouts and one strength-training session.
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What Causes Alzheimers Wandering
There are many reasons why someone with Alzheimers might wander, including:
- Fear or stress they might not recognize where they are, the environment is overstimulating, or a loud noise or confusing situation could upset them
- Basic needs they might be looking for food, a bathroom, or just want to get some fresh air
- Searching they might get lost while looking for someone or something
- Boredom they could be looking for something to do
- Old routines they might be trying to go to work, do chores, or run errands like they used to
Does Higher Learning Combat Dementia
Baby boomers: Did you know that dementia rates are declining? Common wisdom suggests that as people grow older and increasingly develop conditions that contribute to poor brain health, the prevalence of dementia would increase. But this might not be the caseand more years of education may partly to thank.
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that dementia prevalence fell from 2000 to 2012 in people 65 and older, and that this drop was associated with staying in school longer.
Notably, the decrease in dementia occurred despite the increased prevalence of high blood pressure and diabetes, conditions that can increase dementia risk, comments Esther Oh, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center. Oh, who is not affiliated with the study, also says that while the decline appears to be related to improved education levels, more research is needed.
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Exercise 150 Minutes Of Aerobic And 2x/week Strength Training
Physical activity has been shown to be really important for the health of your brain. The recommendations are 150 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly. It could be walking briskly, jogging, or cycling each week.
But dont forget about your muscle strength. Its important to improve the strength of your muscles as well. That helps your bones and your body in general, so its recommended to practice strength training a couple of times a week.
Risk Factors For Dementia
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of developing a condition.
Some dementia risk factors are difficult or impossible to change. These include:
- age: the older you are, the more likely you are to develop dementia. However, dementia is not a natural part of ageing
- genes: in general, genes alone are not thought to cause dementia. However, certain genetic factors are involved with some of the less common types. Dementia usually develops because of a combination of genetic and “environmental” factors, such as smoking and a lack of regular exercise
- lower levels of education
- keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level
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Reducing Your Risk For Dementia
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As you age, you may have concerns about the increased risk of dementia. You may have questions, too. Are there steps I can take to prevent it? Is there anything I can do to reduce my risk? There are currently no approaches that have been proven to effectively treat or prevent Alzheimers disease and related dementias. However, as with many other diseases, there may be steps you can take to help reduce your risk.
Pillar #: Stress Management
Chronic or persistent stress can take a heavy toll on the brain, leading to shrinkage in a key memory area, hampering nerve cell growth, and increasing the risk of Alzheimers disease and dementia. Yet simple stress management tools can minimize its harmful effects and protect your brain.
Breathe! Quiet your stress response with deep, abdominal breathing. Restorative breathing is powerful, simple, and free!
Schedule daily relaxation activities. Keeping stress under control requires regular effort. Learning relaxation techniques such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga can help you unwind and reverse the damaging effects of stress.
Nourish inner peace. Regular meditation, prayer, reflection, and religious practice may immunize you against the damaging effects of stress.
Make fun a priority. All work and no play is not good for your stress levels or your brain. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress.
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Control Your Blood Pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure is strongly associated with an increased risk of dementia. High blood pressure can damage tiny blood vessels in the parts of the brain responsible for cognition and memory. The latest American Heart Association guidelines class blood pressure readings of 130/80 mm Hg and above as the start of high blood pressure.
Check your blood pressure at home. A study in the Netherlands found that a large variation in blood pressure readings over a period of years was associated with an increased risk of dementia. Inexpensive monitors that wrap around your upper arm can help you keep track of your blood pressure throughout the day and pick up on any variations. Some devices even send the results to your phone so you can easily track your readings or share them with your doctor.
Tips For Starting And Sticking With An Exercise Plan
If youve been inactive for a while, starting an exercise program can be intimidating. But remember: a little exercise is better than none. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your health.
Choose activities you enjoy and start smalla 10-minute walk a few times a day, for exampleand allow yourself to gradually build up your momentum and self-confidence.
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Causes Of Alzheimers Disease
What is the primary cause of Alzheimers disease? Unfortunately, there isnt a simple, single primary cause for Alzheimers disease.
Research points to two major players. One is the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque and tau tangles, causing death in brain cells and cognitive decline as it builds up in the brain. The second most likely root cause of Alzheimers is inflammation.
However, there are many factors that can contribute to this disease. Dr. Dale Bredesen researched this disease for 40 years and found some cumulative factors, referred to as holes in the roof.
He likens Alzheimers disease to a flooded home the fewer holes in the roof that allows rainwater to build up, the lower the risk of an uncontrollable deluge.
Bredesens research shows that addressing these risk factors can reduce the risk of Alzheimers, particularly in the decades before the disease presents symptoms.
These causes and contributing factors that lead to an increased risk of Alzheimers include:
- Advanced age
- Female gender
- Cellular function problems
As you can see, a host of underlying factors affect brain health and increase the risk of dementia in older adults. However, its possible to alter choices earlier in life for Alzheimers prevention.
Since this disease is multifactorial, there is no one main cause that can be prevented. That means that in order to lower your risk, more holistic lifestyle changes are your best bet.
Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented
At this time, there is no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. But there are things that may make it less likely.
Adults who are physically active may be less likely than adults who aren’t physically active to get Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. Moderate activity is safe for most people, but it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Older adults who stay mentally active may be at lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Reading, playing cards and other games, working crossword puzzles, and even watching television or listening to the radio may help them avoid symptoms of the disease. So can going out and remaining as socially active as possible. Although this “use it or lose it” approach hasn’t been proved, no harm can come from regularly putting the brain to work.
Some studies have tried to find a link between the Mediterranean-style diet and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. More research is needed.
Can Controlling High Blood Pressure Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Controlling high blood pressure is known to reduce a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke. The NASEM committee of experts concluded that managing blood pressure when it’s high, particularly for middle-aged adults, also might help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s dementia.
Many types of studies show a connection between high blood pressure, cerebrovascular disease , and dementia. For example, it’s common for people with Alzheimer’s-related changes in the brain to also have signs of vascular damage in the brain, autopsy studies show. In addition, observational studies have found that high blood pressure in middle age, along with other cerebrovascular risk factors such as diabetes and smoking, increase the risk of developing dementia.
Clinical trialsthe gold standard of medical proofare underway to determine whether managing high blood pressure in individuals with hypertension can prevent Alzheimer’s dementia or cognitive decline.
One large clinical trialcalled SPRINT-MIND found that lowering systolic blood pressure to less than 120 mmHg, compared to a target of less than 140 mmHg, did not significantly reduce the risk of dementia. Participants were adults age 50 and older who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease but had no history of stroke or diabetes.
Manage Or Better Yet Entirely Avoid Other Diseases
So if you have another disease, you want to make sure youre treating that disease under the guidance of your physician. Research studies suggests that avoiding or managing other disease helps reduce the risk of mental decline. Many diseases that we might consider to be outside of the brain can still have an impact on brain health for example, you might want to read our article on high blood pressure and your brain.
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How Is Alzheimers Disease Treated
Medical management can improve quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimers disease and for their caregivers. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimers disease. Treatment addresses several areas:
- Helping people maintain brain health.
- Managing behavioral symptoms.
- Slowing or delaying symptoms of the disease.
Consider A Senior Living Community
Senior living communities make keeping up with your cognitive health and overall wellness much easier than if you lived at home alone. Exceptional communities offer more than just socialization opportunities, fitness classes and healthy nutrition at every turn. They are hubs of activity for other adults who want to make wellness the focal point of their retirement.
Learn more about Life Plan Communities, including their benefits and features, by downloading our free resource, The Complete Guide to Life Plan Communities.
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Reducing Your Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
- keeping alcohol to a minimum
- eating a healthy, balanced diet, including at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day
- exercising for at least 150 minutes every week by doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity , or as much as you’re able to
- making sure your blood pressure is checked and controlled through regular health tests
- if you have diabetes, make sure you keep to the diet and take your medicine