Every 4 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s the most common cause of dementia affecting more than 40 million people worldwide.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affects a person’s ability to function independently.
The early signs of the disease include forgetting recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, memory impairments worsen and other symptoms develop.
Alzheimer’s disease is not a preventable condition. There is no treatment that cures Alzheimer’s disease or alters the disease process in the brain. In advanced stages of the disease, complications from severe loss of brain function — such as dehydration, malnutrition or infection — result in death.
However, a number of lifestyle risk factors for Alzheimer’s can be modified. Evidence suggests that changes in diet, exercise and habits — steps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease — may also lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders that cause dementia. Dr. Navin Tiwari, Director and Senior Consulting Neurologist at Asian Neuro Centre in Indore suggests these heart-healthy lifestyle choices that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s:
- Exercise regularly and follow a disciplined lifestyle
Exercise for at least 150 minutes every week by doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or fast walking), or as much as you’re able to.
2. Eat a healthy diet
Eat a diet of fresh produce, healthy oils and foods low in saturated fat. Focus on having a balanced diet, including at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
3. Keep high blood pressure and diabetes in check
Follow treatment guidelines to manage high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Making sure your blood pressure is checked and controlled through regular health tests is important. If you have diabetes, make sure you keep to the diet and take your medicine.
4. Don’t smoke
Stop smoking. Feel free to ask your doctor for help to quit smoking if you smoke. Avoid all forms of tobacco and keep alcohol to a minimum.
5. Challenge your mind
Studies have shown that preserved thinking skills later in life and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease are associated with participating in social events, reading, dancing, playing board games, creating art, playing an instrument, and other activities that require mental and social engagement. So, people who keep learning and stay social may be less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not completely clear yet, but the mental stimulation may be like a workout for your brain
As the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown, there’s no certain way to prevent the condition. But a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk.
Resources for support
Key elements of Alzheimer’s care are education and support. This is especially true in young-onset Alzheimer’s given its unique challenges. Getting connected to services such as support groups can help you identify resources, gain a deeper understanding of the disability and learn ways to adapt.
Remember, you’re not alone. Many resources are available to assist you, your family and your caregivers in coping with this disease.
September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia and this year’s theme is, ‘Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s’. Early detection and diagnosis of dementia is an essential first step to providing interventions and care for people living with it.
With the population ageing, rates of dementia are expected to almost triple by 2050 and we are all potentially part of this alarming statistic. Spreading awareness about dementia is critical.
This year, the HealthPlix workforce participated in the global Alzheimer’s Awareness campaign to raise awareness and to challenge the stigma that persists around dementia. September 2021 marks the 10th year of this vital global awareness-raising campaign. Connect with us on social media here:
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a health care professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.