Alzheimer’s: 9 Ways to Lower Its Risk and Progression
A report of Alzheimer’s disease International (ADI) published in 2009, said there were 35.6 million people were with dementia and Alzheimer’s and it was expected that the number would increase to 65.7 million by 2030.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes. They affect memory, thinking, behavior, intellect, personality and emotion. Symptoms may include loss of memory, difficulty in finding the right words or understanding what people are saying, difficulty in performing previously routine tasks, personality and mood change. In the last stage of Alzheimer’s a person is totally dependent of care-givers and might have swallowing difficulties, is very thin and dies of infections or other diseases.
Although age, family history, and genes play a major role in determining Alzheimer’s risk, there are several ways to prevent Alzheimer’s or slower its progression.
Sleep. Getting enough sleep helps to consolidate memory, and an afternoon nap might lock-in long-term memoires faster. Sleep deprivation could stimulate the production of amyloid plaques and cause the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Lack of sleep also affects hormones’ balance and metabolism, leading to diabetes, weight gain, and making a person to look older. Sleeping less than eight hours a night also increases risk of heart attack, stroke, and depression and weakens immune system, so one gets cold much easier.
Music. The capacity for music tends to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease differently than other brain functions. “It appears that words to a song get encoded in a different place in the brain than the words we use in speech, and it appears that people with Alzheimer’s actually preserve the music, and the words that go to music, long after much of the rest of the brain is not functioning well,” said Elaine Bearer, professor of neuroscience at the University of New Mexico. Also listening to relaxing melodies, singing or playing an instrument keep the brain in a good shape.
Intellectual activities. People who keep their brains active may be at less risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Reading, engaging in a hobby such as playing bridge or chess, or doing crosswords and word puzzles may help to reduce risk.
Wine. A glass of wine a day appears to reduce the risk of cognitive decline that occurs with normal aging as well as Alzheimer’s. A study found that those who had a drink a day through the years had about a 25% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s in old age compared with those who didn’t drink at all. Heavier drinking increased the risk of cognitive decline more than non-drinking. A glass of wine could also prevent heart and vascular illness and help you to relax and sleep better. However, if you have Alzheimer’s, a liver condition, or other diseases that get worsen by alcohol, you should avoid it.
Stop smoking. Smokers have a 72% greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s found the researchers from the University of California, San Francisco after excluding studies sponsored by the tobacco industry. Industry-funded studies found that smokers had a lower risk. Besides lowering lung cancer’s risk, quitting smoking also can help you to sleep better, thinking more clear, being relaxed. Stopping smoking improves your complexion, reduces your wrinkles, and lowers heart attack and stroke’s risks.
Control blood sugar. A Japanese study showed that diabetes could raise Alzheimer’s risk up to three times. Those with higher than normal blood sugar levels, or prediabetes, also have a higher risk. High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) could be reverse through eight hours a night sleep, weight loss, daily walks, and a reduction in sweets and other processed foods.
Control cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels are associated with changes in the brain that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. A study that examined the brains on autopsy found that participants who had high total cholesterol levels (over 224 mg/dL) in mid- to late life were seven times more likely than those with low cholesterol (under 173 mg/dL) to have the beta-amyloid plaques in their brain when they died a decade or two later. Eating low-fat or fat-free dairy products and limiting your intake of red meat can help lower cholesterol levels. The onion and garlic consumed daily are great helpers in prevention of atherosclerosis, by reducing cholesterol level. Also the goal can be reached through weight loss and daily exercise.
Weight loss. Losing weight can also prevent the Alzheimer’s since a study showed that obesity duration increased type 2 diabetes risk, and other study said the diabetes could raise the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Exercise. A daily walk is good for the brain, and getting yourself sweaty several times a week is even better. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise (brisk walking, biking, swimming, or dancing) can reduce the risk of dementia and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia in old age. After the age of 65, at every five years, the number of people with Alzheimer’s doubles.
US Against Alzheimer’s said one in eight 65-year-old already has the disease, which has no effective treatment, and is ultimately fatal.
Although Alzheimer’s appears in people over 65, like legendary crooner Glenn Campbell (75), early-onset dementia can be found in younger persons, like basketball coach Pat Summitt (59).