As one of the most common types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease impacts millions of Americans every year. Understanding the various Alzheimer’s risk factors can empower you to make a variety of lifestyle changes that may reduce your chances of being diagnosed. Here is what you need to know about this disease as you grow older so that you can minimize your risk.
Understanding More About Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition that typically presents with mild memory loss in the beginning stages. As it worsens, the disease may lead to the inability to recognize loved ones, converse in a logical manner and respond to important environmental cues. At its advanced stages, those with Alzheimer’s disease may not be able to carry out simple daily activities independently.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are various ways that medical treatments can improve the quality of life for those living with this vicious disease. This includes managing the behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s, taking steps to slow down the acceleration of the symptoms and helping patients to maintain optimal brain health. In addition to support for the patient, the patient’s loved ones should also seek help in dealing with this challenging prognosis.
Alzheimer’s Risk Factors
A recent study at the Paris Brain Institute in France has identified associations between ten distinct health conditions that increase the risk of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis up to ten years in the future. The risk factors that the study identified through their research are as follows:
- sleep disorders
- excessive weight loss
- arthritis known as cervical spondylosis
- outward reactions to severe stress
- hearing loss
- history of falls
- consistent fatigue
In addition to this study, the Lancet Commission on dementia also released a new list of modifiable risk factors that increase the threat of developing Alzheimer’s. These risk factors are excessive alcohol consumption, history of head injury, exposure to air pollution, obesity, smoking, hypertension, depression, physical inactivity and diabetes.
Unlike some of the risk factors identified in the study out of France, these modifiable elements are risks that an individual can address through a variety of lifestyle changes. While some of the risk factors associated with this dreadful disease are genetic and circumstantial, there are also a number of risks that you can lower with the right lifestyle decisions.
How to Protect Your Cognitive Health
Now that you know some of the most common risk factors of Alzheimer’s, you can ascertain what you can do to protect against this disease by boosting your own cognitive health. This includes being intentional about eating a plant-based diet rich in healthy fats. Specific nutrients that have been shown to boost brain health include vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids and the flavonoids found in brightly colored foods.
You also should be diligent about limiting your consumption of processed foods that are low in nutrients. This type of food can trigger inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to a myriad of cognitive issues and mood swings.
Some of the most promising research surrounding the protection of cognitive health is in the area of physical activity. Experts believe that participating in at least 30 minutes of moderately vigorous aerobic exercise four times per week can help to prevent the onset and progression of the disease if you are already experiencing symptoms.
Other good steps to take to protect your cognitive health in the later years is to be intentional about stimulating your brain with puzzles, games and other activities. Socialization and connecting with others are other great ways to slow down the progression of this disease.
In addition to the proactive steps of eating right and exercising both your brain and body, it is important to limit stress in your life. Being committed to relaxing will help you to ward off the stressors that could lead to mental decline both now and down the road.
Lastly, taking a targeted supplement aimed at boosting normal cognitive function is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve this outcome as you age. The right mix of vitamins, antioxidants and cell membrane stabilizers is important to support optimal mental function, concentration and memory.
It is important to note that some degree of forgetfulness is normal as you age. However, by being proactive to reduce your modifiable risk factors, you will be doing your mind a favor as you get older.