It’s important to focus on preventative measures before complications arise. In the case of Alzheimer’s, once this disease develops, there is no cure. There are treatments to improve one’s quality of life, but based on Alzheimer’s progressive nature, it’s important to reduce various risk factors.
There are no clear answers regarding the exact measures of Alzheimer’s Prevention, as each case is unique and there are still unknown factors regarding the onset of Alzheimer’s itself. With that being said, as more research is conducted, researchers are uncovering information to potentially prevent the development of this degenerative condition.
How Do I Prevent Alzheimer’s?
It’s important to note that those who inherit the genetic mutations which cause early-onset can do little at this time to prevent Alzheimer’s from developing. Since the exact cause of late-onset isn’t fully understood, current preventative measures are believed to simply reduce your risk or delay onset. Here are some practical tips that you can implement into your life today.
Protect Your Heart Health
Cardiovascular disease and cognitive health are closely related. Those that suffer from complications regarding their heart or blood vessels are at an increased risk of both Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. When you care for your health, you not only reduce your risk of dementia but also your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
In order to protect your cardiovascular health, you should avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and nicotine. If you are currently a smoker, it’s important to note that multiple studies have verified the link between tobacco smoke and Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the most important areas of focus is diet and exercise. An active lifestyle that focuses on a nutrient-rich diet is the best way to support both heart and brain health. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise daily, whether you’re walking, swimming, or practicing yoga.
Eating a diet that is not only balanced, but varied is important. Consumption of at least five fruits and vegetables daily is recommended. Also, consume healthy fats, such as those found in fish, flaxseeds, and raw olive oil. In order to protect your brain and heart, you should also practice effective stress management.
If you currently suffer from hypertension or diabetes, it’s critical that you control your blood pressure and blood glucose levels. When these conditions aren’t controlled, they significantly increase your risk of cardiovascular complications and in turn, negative effects on cognition.
Stay Mentally Active
It’s been suggested that those who maintain high levels of mental activity are at a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. It’s important to take part in a variety of hobbies which support physical, mental, and social activity. Reading, writing, playing musical instruments, learning a new language, golfing, or swimming are all prime examples.
Several studies have shown that social interaction also lowers one’s risk. Whether you remain socially active at home, at work, or through a volunteer program, social engagement is important for cognitive functioning. At this time, it’s unknown whether social interaction itself or related factors (such as increased cognitive stimulation) produce this effect.
NIH. (2015). Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease: What Do We Know? National Institute on Aging. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/preventing-alzheimers-disease/search-alzheimers-prevention-strategies#brainactive
NHS. (2014). Alzheimer’s Disease. National Health Services. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Alzheimers-disease/Pages/Prevention.aspx