Alzheimer’s Disease—Decrease Your Risk Factors by Making Simple Lifestyle Changes Now

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease are much more than forgetting where you left your keys or the inability to remember an important date.  Alzheimer’s is a degenerate brain disorder and is the most common form of dementia.  As the disease worsens the ability to perform daily tasks is significantly affected.  It is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.; and the 5th leading cause of death for those 65 or older.  Although there is no current cure, only drug treatment to slow down the symptoms, there are things you can do now to decrease your risk factors in getting Alzheimer’s Disease.  What are some of these risk factors?

Family exercising to reduce risk factor of Alzheimer's disease

There are combined risk factors globally that are associated with slightly over 51 percent of Alzheimer’s Disease. What are they?  Depression, mid-life hypertension, low education, smoking, diabetes, mid-life obesity, and lack of physical activity make up the biggest risk factors.  However, there is good news.  Findings presented by Deborah Barnes at the 2011 Alzheimer’s International Conference in Paris, France suggested that simple lifestyle changes could have a huge impact on the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.  Why is this good news?

You can decrease your risk factors in getting Alzheimer’s Disease.

Based on the aforementioned findings, here are some suggestions:

  • Depression. Surround yourself with things that make you happy.  Choose colors in your house that lift your spirits.  If you enjoy being outside a lot, bring the outside indoors by placing plants throughout your home.  If you are an animal lover, get a pet.  Stay positive.  Of course, if you have more than the occasional down-day seek professional assistance. You may have clinical depression that can be treated with proper medication.   Avoid alcohol abuse which will only contribute to the cycle of depression   Get plenty of daily sunlight.  Have your physician check your “vitamin D” levels.  Low levels of vitamin D can contribute to depression.
  • Watch your weight.  Mid-life obesity most of the time is a result of “creeping obesity.”  A pound here and there creeps up resulting in significant weight gain.
    Make it a goal to eat healthier.  Don’t think in terms of dieting.  Gradually making better food choices will result in a positive lifestyle change.
  • Get your body moving.  As already mentioned, lack of physical activity is a risk factor you can easily work on.  If you haven’t exercised for a while start slowly.  Find an exercise that fits into your schedule.  The important thing is consistency.  If you work in an office, walk on your lunch hour.  Some people work out as soon as they get up in the morning, while others find that evenings fit their busy timeframe. Do not procrastinate, just do it.
  • Stop smoking.  Although this is an obvious, many still struggle with this gremlin.  If you haven’t stopped smoking yet, seek professional assistance.  There are techniques and medications that may help.  Have a target date to stop.  If you fail, keep trying.  It may take a few attempts, but you can stop smoking.  My mother quit smoking, cold turkey, in her late 70’s.  So it’s never too late.
  • Limit toxic forms of stress.  This is much easier said than done.  Life is full of special challenges and problems.  Deal with what is on your plate.  However, limit potential problems by making wiser decisions, especially situations that you know will raise your pressure!  Obviously, there are many other things that contribute to hypertension.  Avoiding toxic situations though is one you may be able to control.

Also don’t panic—not all dementia is Alzheimer’s.  Dementia is a group of symptoms that have various causes such as as thyroid problems, depression, particular drug interaction, and other diseases.  See your physician if you or a loved one are experiencing changes in memory, behavior, and other related cognitive skills.

If you currently are not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, now is the time to make lifestyle changes.  Start gradually and make better choices in your eating habits, increase your physical activity, and create a happier environment for yourself when possible.  For most people, the odds are in your favor if you do what you can now to decrease your overall risk factors related to Alzheimer’s disease.