There is nothing scarier in this world than the prospect of losing your mind and forgetting all the people and events that you hold dear. No one wants to get Alzheimer’s disease, but can you do anything to prevent it? According to the scientists at National Institute on Ageing (NIA) there is no proven preventative measures at this time, however there are a number of things you can do to lower your risk factors which may help.
Increase Physical Activity
Although there is no direct proof that increased physical activity prevents Alzheimer’s, it has been shown in studies to lower an individual’s risk of cognitive decline as a whole. Not only that, but exercise also lowers your risk of a number of other deadly diseases that come with ageing, so regardless of your intentions, it’s in your best interest to get up and move! This exercise can be anything from a daily walk around the block, to a hike, or consider enrolling in a senior specific class at your local gym!
Control High Blood Pressure
Other studies have discovered that people with Alzheimer’s tend to have some vascular damage to the brain (this was discovered in autopsies), which leads doctors to believe that there is a definite connection between prolonged high blood pressure and the development of the cognitive disease. This hasn’t been proven yet, but regardless, high blood pressure has been connected to the development of another cognitive disease called dementia, so it’s better to treat it than ignore it.
The science connecting the time spent playing memory games and Alzheimer’s prevention is thin, but a number of studies run by NIA show that time spent completing brain teasers and puzzles does indeed increase brain function.
In fact, a number of test subjects who spent a few hours a day completing the puzzles, later reported they were able to remain independent in the completion of daily tasks for many years longer than those in the study who didn’t complete any memory games (Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) trial, Sharon L Tennstedt, Frederick W. Unverzagt).
Either way, you have nothing to lose, so consider downloading or purchasing a new memory or brain teaser game to keep your mind fresh.
This goes along with controlling your high blood pressure, but keeping your body in a good physical shape helps with preventing all sorts of diseases which may develop as you age. Consider adding more Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet if you haven’t already.
Additionally, work on limiting sugar and other foods which may spike your blood sugar and cholesterol. And most importantly, stop any nicotine or alcohol usage as these substances are directly linked to increased cognitive decline.
There are currently no prescription drugs which have been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. If you are worried about an unbalanced diet affecting your cognitive function (for example you don’t like fish which is a prime way to consume Omega-3 fatty acids) talk to your doctor about the possibility of taking a vitamin supplement.
But please note there are many “memory” supplements on the market and a number of these are frauds or simply sugar pills. There is no pill on the market that will prevent Alzheimer’s so only take a supplement if it has been recommended by your doctor.
Overall, Alzheimer’s is a terrifying thing, for everyone. Although we don’t currently have any preventions for the disease, the science surrounding it is changing every day.
In the meantime, focus on keeping your mind and body healthy, and who knows, maybe we are only a few years away from a big medical breakthrough in regard to the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.