The experts agree – they do not yet know for sure what causes Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. They have a good idea of a genetic connection in one percent of the cases, but for the other 99 percent, the researchers are looking at a wide range of possible causes or contributing factors. Since they do not yet know the causes of Alzheimer’s, it is difficult for people to understand how to prevent it. However, the scientists offer some suggestions. Does Alzheimer’s run in your family? Take these six steps now to protect yourself.
What Lifestyle Habits Might Help You to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease?
The researchers feel somewhat confident about these three tips, which should come as no surprise:
- Get plenty of sleep. Your brain clears amyloid from your brain when you sleep, and there is a link between amyloid production and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Marshall, a Harvard-affiliated Alzheimer’s researcher, suggests a target of seven or eight hours every night.
- Move around. Dr. Marshall says that people with symptoms of Alzheimer’s can slow the disease’s progress and people without it, can prevent it from developing through physical exercise. Do not worry; do not turn your schedule upside-down or become a gym rat. Just get moderately vigorous aerobic exercise for about half an hour a few times a week. A brisk walk is a good option that does not require you to buy any equipment or pay membership fees.
- Eat delicious food – of the Mediterranean variety. Even adding just a few elements of this way of eating can make a difference. A Mediterranean eating plan includes lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, with whole grains, olive oil, and legumes. For protein, you would focus on fish and nuts, with poultry, eggs, and dairy in moderation and little red meat. And red wine in moderation.
Although they cannot say with as much certainty these next three tips will help you avoid the development or progression of Alzheimer’s, the scientists have evidence these lifestyle choices may be beneficial:
- Be a social butterfly. Okay, do not go that far. However, you should not be a hermit. Observational studies hint at a connection between increased social interaction and avoiding Alzheimer’s. Your local senior center or community center should have multiple options for activities. Check with your city’s parks and recreation department for additional senior programs.
- To drink or not to drink? Some studies show that one drink a day for women and one or two a day for men can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Some studies challenge this conclusion. Dr. Marshall suggests that if you drink, do so in moderation.
- Give your brain new toys. If you stop learning new things, your brain can suffer a decline in cognitive function. The more variety of new and different brain games, the better. Do the crossword puzzle every day or play bridge or read the newspaper, those are great for your brain, but throw your gray cells a curve ball now and then.
If you always read novels, for example, now and then read a memoir or biography of someone who interests you. Listen to a different genre of music now and then. Try cooking a new cuisine. See a foreign-language film with subtitles. Get involved in activities with people from other age groups.
Having a healthy lifestyle can help you enjoy your golden years to the fullest. These six tips might help you avoid the development of Alzheimer’s disease or slow its progress if you have symptoms. To learn what you should do to protect yourself legally and financially during your retirement, talk with an elder law attorney in your area.
Harvard Medical School. “What can you do to avoid Alzheimer’s disease?” (accessed March 21, 2018) https://www.health.harvard.edu/alzheimers-and-dementia/what-can-you-do-to-avoid-alzheimers-disease
Alzheimer’s Association. “Prevention and Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.” (accessed March 21, 2018) https://www.alz.org/research/science/alzheimers_prevention_and_risk.asp