As people get older, the threat of Alzheimer’s Disease looms closer.This makes it a major cause for concern. Typical advice for people who are growing old is to hope that one day, scientists will find a cure for this daunting disease. But since there is no known cure yet, they just must hope that it doesn’t happen to them.
Fortunately, the truth isn’t as bleak. There have been a lot of research done which show promising results. The risk of Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases can be reduced. This is done by changing one’s lifestyle. It’s all about making healthier choices and sticking to these changes. People who lead a lifestyle which is brain-healthy have a higher likelihood of putting a stop to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. By following a combination of healthy lifestyle choices, a person can slow down or reverse the deterioration process.
Studies have shown that the golden years are most likely to be the happiest days of a person’s life. When people reach these years, they already have a lot of experiences, wisdom, and possibly, fewer responsibilities. However, the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases is always lurking around the corner. Thinking about age-related diseases like these can dampen the mood. Alzheimer’s Disease is dangerous because it takes away a person’s memories, and identity. And when in the most advanced stage, even a person’s life. This possibility is enough to make anyone fear the disease.
Statistics show that up to the ripe age of 65, only 1 in 20 people has the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. But after that age, the risk doubles every 5 years or so. This is the sad news. However, there is a silver lining. Researchers keep on doing studies which may eventually lead to a breakthrough. This breakthrough may allow doctors to pinpoint the exact symptoms of Alzheimer’s earlier. Aside from that, they might also come up with medicines or pharmaceuticals which can treat the disease before it progresses into more advanced stages.
What Causes Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease happens to be the most common type of dementia. This happens when 2 kinds of protein accumulate in the brain. These are plaques and tangles. As the disease progresses, it destroys the cells of the brain.
But what exactly causes this awful disease? Right now, nobody knows the exact cause yet. In most cases, the plaques and tangles are closely linked with Alzheimer’s. However, there are a lot more factors which can contribute to the progression of the symptoms. These include vascular risk factors, brain inflammation, and an unhealthy lifestyle.
Experts agree on one thing though. In most cases, Alzheimer’s develops because of composite interactions among different factors. This is also true for other common chronic illnesses. These factors can include genetics, age, existing medical conditions, and lifestyle. Some risk factors are unchangeable, such as genes or a person’s age. But others can to help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Here are some of the best lifestyle changes to employ:
This is one of the most important lifestyle changes to do to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. It also happens to be the most challenging for a lot of people. Exercising regularly is a great strategy. This helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and even vascular dementia. It’s a fact that exercise benefits the cells of the brain. When a person exercises, the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain increases. Exercise regimens which are medically approved are best. Especially if they have cardiovascular benefits.
When a person makes exercise part of his routine, it helps lower the risk by up to 50%. Aside from this, regular exercise can also slow down the deterioration of the brain which may lead to cognitive issues. Exercising helps prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s by fueling the brain’s ability to preserve old connections. It also helps stimulate the brain to make new connections.
It’s ideal to aim for at least 2-3 hours of exercise every week. For the targeted age group, exercises of moderate intensity are best. Ideally, the regimen must involve strength training as well as cardio exercises. Swimming and walking are great forms of exercise for beginners.
Building muscle strengthens the brain. This means that moderate levels of resistance training and weight training are ideal. These kinds of exercises increase the body’s muscle mass. They keep the brain healthy too. People who are over 65 years old will benefit a lot from adding 2-3 strength training sessions into their weekly routine. Coordination and balance exercises are also important. This is because head injuries from falling over are very risky as people grow older. These kinds of injuries heighten the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. Therefore, these kinds of exercises can help older people remain agile. The best types of exercises for balance and coordination are Tai Chi, Yoga, and exercising with balance balls.
Eat Healthy Foods
Pairing regular exercise with a healthy diet is key. It’s a fact that insulin resistance and communication cause Alzheimer’s. They injure the neurons, hindering communication between the cells of the brain. Therefore some people call this disease the “diabetes of the brain.” Some research has shown that there’s a strong connection between signal processing systems of the brain and metabolic disorders. Fortunately, adapting healthy eating habits can help lower the risk of inflammation. This keeps the brain protected. Here are some great tips for healthy eating:
- Reduce the amount of sugar in the diet. Cutting down on refined carbohydrates and sugar-rich foods are important. This is because these kinds of foods may lead to spikes in blood sugar. When this happens, it contributes to inflammation in the brain.
- Also avoid trans fats as much as possible. Trans fats produce free radicals in the body. This causes inflammation in the brain as well as in other parts of the body. Trans fats are abundant in fried foods, packaged foods, and even fast food.
- Consume a lot of omega-3 fats. Studies have shown that the DHA component present in these kinds of fats aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease by lowering the beta-amyloid plaques. Omega-3 fats are present in cold water fish as well as fish oil.
- Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. When it comes to these foods, the more you consume, the better. Fruits and vegetables with vibrant colors contain a lot of vitamins and antioxidants. These are highly beneficial to your health and wellbeing.
- Daily cups of tea can help enhance mental alertness and memory. It can also slow down the brain aging. Oolong and white teas are healthy for the brain. Coffee can also be beneficial, though not as much as tea.
- Go for home-cooked meals. People who eat at home or cook their food are most likely to eat healthier foods. Practicing healthy meal planning is important too. Especially for people who have the time to do it.
Eating healthy foods is always beneficial. When the body is healthy, it functions better, and it’s better at keeping diseases at bay. That’s why adapting healthy eating habits is vital. When people don’t think about what they eat, they usually end up eating quick, easy, and unhealthy foods. Doing this increases the risk of developing different illnesses, including Alzheimer’s.
Enhance Your Social Skills
It’s a fact that human beings are highly sociable. People don’t do well in isolation, and neither do their brains. So, social skills are really important. As people grow older, staying socially engaged becomes beneficial. It may reduce the risk of dementia as well as Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the later years.
This doesn’t mean that a person needs to be the life of the party all the time. That can be exhausting! But, older people need to meet with friends and loved ones regularly. This makes them realize that people care about them. While a lot of people tend to isolate themselves as they grow older, taking small steps towards enhancing social skills are not that difficult. Here are some helpful activities to try:
- Getting to know neighbors.
- Setting regular dates with old friends.
- Reach out to friends and loved ones through email or by phone.
- Connect through social networks.
- Sign up for group classes, clubs or other kinds of social groups.
- Volunteer or visit the local community center.
- Go outdoors regularly.
Different research has indicated that people who maintain strong social connections also keep themselves active, mentally. This is important as it helps prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s, especially later in life.
Boost Your Brain Activity
There are a lot of different activities which can boost the brain’s activity. These include completing puzzles, reading, playing games or even learning a new concept or skill. People who keep their minds active can help themselves by reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. Just like maintaining social connections, different activities that boost the brain are highly beneficial.
When people constantly learn new things, their brains are always challenged, seldom idle. People who keep using their brains improve their cognitive functions and the effects last long-term. Activities which involve different tasks are the best. Also, the ones which involve a lot of communication and organization. It’s best to set aside time each day to stimulate the brain. Consider these helpful tips:
- Learn new things such as playing a musical instrument, a foreign language or something out of the ordinary. Also, reading new books or even taking up a new hobby can be beneficial. The newer the skills or concept is, the more challenging it will be. The more challenging the learning is, the more beneficial it can be too.
- Develop memorization skills. Start off with something easy, progressing to more difficult things gradually. Practice mnemonics to enhance these skills further.
- Have fun playing and solving different riddles, puzzles, and games. Strategy games and brain teasers allow for an excellent mental workout. These activities also build the brain’s ability to create and maintain cognitive associations.
- Keep asking questions. When something significant happens, observe the circumstances and ask the 5W questions. Remembering visual details keeps the neurons active.
- Take a break from routine occasionally. This gives the chance to experience new things, keeping the brain active.
When it comes to brain-boosting activities, the possibilities are endless. The process of learning should never cease, even as a person grows older.When a person keeps the brain active, the risk of Alzheimer’s lowers significantly.
Get Enough Sleep
This is a common piece of advice for people to remain healthy. Most people who have Alzheimer’s disease also suffer from sleep problems such as insomnia. However, new studies have shown that interrupted sleep isn’t just a sign of Alzheimer’s. It’s also a potential risk factor. More and more studies indicate that less sleep contributes to heightened levels of the protein beta-amyloid. This, in turn, further causes sleep disturbances, especially with deep sleep. Deep sleep is important for the formation of memory. It’s also important for a person to sleep without interruptions. This is the time when brain toxins are flushed out.
People who suffer from regular sleep deprivation may experience a lag in their thinking times. It can also affect the mood significantly. Finally, these people also have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. On average, adults need at least 8 hours of sleep a night to stay healthy.
It’s important to set a regular schedule for sleeping. Sleeping and waking up at the same time strengthens one’s circadian rhythms. Also, be smart when it comes to napping. Although short naps are a great way for a person to recharge, napping later in the day can contribute to insomnia. People already suffering from insomnia should think about removing nap time from their daily routine. For people who need to nap, it’s best to do so in the early afternoon and for not more than half an hour.
Finally, to be able to sleep well, it’s important to set the routine and the mood. The bed should only be a place to sleep and have sex. In doing this, the body and mind respond to the mere act of getting into bed. Also, it’s beneficial to do relaxing activities before bed to wind down and quiet the mind. These steps usually allow for a better sleep throughout the night.