Alzheimer’s disease, also known as “senile dementia”, is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. With roughly 3 million cases in the United States each year, it is quite common among senior citizens.
Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible once it takes hold. Memory, thinking skills and the ability to carry out simple tasks are slowly destroyed. Symptoms first appear usually in the mid 60’s age ranges. These symptoms include
- Memory loss
- Poor judgement and bad decisions
- Repeating questions
- Wandering and getting lost
- Mood and personality changes
- Anxiety and aggression
- Loss of spontaneity
- Short attention span
- Difficulty recognizing otherwise familiar people
More severe symptoms include
- Inability to communicate
- Weight loss
- Skin infections
- Difficulty swallowing
- Groaning, moaning, or grunting
The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet clear. The disease generally arises from a complex series of brain changes over decades, which could include a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. All of these would vary from person to person.
Although Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible, it is possible to reduce the risk. There are six areas of one’s life that are within one’s control for a healthy brain and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease:
1. Exercise. According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent.
2. Social Interaction. Staying socially engaged may protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia even in your later life. Make developing and maintaining a strong network of friends your priority.
3. Healthy Diet. Inflammation and insulin resistance injure neurons and inhibit communication between brain cells. So, cutting down on sugar, processed foods and trans fat will help reduce this inflammation to the brain.
4. Mental stimulation. Those who continue learning new things and challenging their brains throughout life are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Learn something new. Practice memorization, enjoy puzzles and strategy games. Anything that keeps your neurons firing.
5. Sleep. Quality sleep is good for flushing out brain toxins. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
6. Manage Stress. Stress can take a heavy toll on the brain, leading to shrinkage in a key memory area, hindering nerve growth, which increases risk of alzheimers and dementia. Practice breathing, have more fun and cultivate your inner peace.
Other tips to prevent Alzheimer’s disease include quitting smoking (or never starting), controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, and limiting your alcohol consumption.