How To Prevent Alzheimer's? Tips And Techniques
By: Julia Thomas
Updated April 08, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT
On average, people are living far longer than they could in the past. This is thanks to modern technology and improved medical care. However, even though medical interventions can extend people's lives, it cannot always prevent or cure the disorders and diseases that come along with aging. Alzheimer's Disease is one such condition. Many people develop this condition late in life.
Alzheimer's Disease is marked by symptoms that progressively worsen over time. Typically, people first show difficulties with their memory. They may struggle to select words and lose some ability to speak fluently. Over time, the symptoms increase and become more severe. There are treatments to slow the progression of the symptoms, but there is no known cure for this condition. Eventually, those with Alzheimer's Disease may lose their ability to care for themselves independently.
For many people, dementia is a terrifying condition, and they wonder how to prevent Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer's Disease involves declines in cognitive functioning as the brain physically deteriorates. The brain does this as a result of neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques that develop.
At this time, researchers are not sure of any specific underlying causes for the brain changes that occur in Alzheimer's Disease. Genetics, particularly certain genetic mutations, and environmental factors both appear to contribute to the development of Alzheimer's Disease.
Unfortunately, it also appears there is no certain way to prevent the development of this condition. While there is no definitive way to prevent the disorder, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. The prevention of Alzheimer's Disease relies mainly on lifestyle changes and choices.
Learn some tips and techniques for ways to prevent Alzheimer's:
#1 - Exercise And Stay Active
Research has shown that having an active lifestyle and staying active even into the senior years can help maintain health. The benefits extend past just maintaining physical health to also maintaining mental and emotional health as well. Regular exercise helps to keep weight in the ideal range and prevents problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. This is good because all these conditions are known to cause an increased risk of Alzheimer's Disease.
Physical activity that increases blood and oxygen flow seem particularly helpful for the prevention of Alzheimer's Disease. Research suggests that increased oxygen and blood flow may help maintain brain cells. Of course, physical activity also helps to prevent health conditions, which also then reduces the risk of Alzheimer's Disease. Staying active seems to help maintain cognitive functioning.
#2 - Eat A Healthy Diet
Given that research has shown a link between high cholesterol and high blood pressure to Alzheimer's Disease, it is also important to eat a healthy diet. An ideal diet will limit the intake of foods that would be unhealthy while including foods that are good for brain health.
One approach that has been particularly recommended is the Mediterranean diet. This approach does not depend on restriction. Rather, this approach consists of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, olive oil, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy, while limiting intake of red meat. Research has shown that this dietary approach does seem to help slow the progression of Alzheimer's symptoms.
Another option is the DASH diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This approach is considered heart-healthy eating. Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables. Whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, fish, and poultry are also included. It also involves limiting the intake of sugars, saturated fats, fats, dairy products, and red meats. This approach has shown benefits for health, especially heart health, which also helps maintain the brain.
#3 - Sleep On A Regular Schedule
The brain needs sleep for many different functions. In fact, while you are sleeping is when your brain moves information from short to long-term memory. Inadequate sleep can cause memory impairment and other cognitive symptoms for anyone. Consistently irregular or limited sleep can cause lifelong problems. When cognitive symptoms are apparent, sleep becomes even more important.
Research suggests that sleep is particularly imperative for Alzheimer's prevention. In particular, studies have found that perhaps it is necessary to clear amyloid from the brain, which may help to prevent the amyloid plaques. This is critical because amyloid contributes to the tangles and plaques found in the brains of those with Alzheimer's Disease. Seven to eight hours per night is recommended.
#4 - Drink Alcohol In Moderation
Presently, there is conflicting evidence for whether drinking or not drinking will be helpful in preventing Alzheimer's Disease. It is thought that moderate alcohol intake could reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. This equates to one drink per day for women. It equates to one or two drinks per day for men.
Not all forms of alcohol are thought to be helpful. In particular, wine seems to be most helpful. Although more research is needed, it is thought that wine may help due to resveratrol, which is a polyphenol from grape skins. Studies have suggested the compounds may improve brain activity.
#5 - Stop Smoking
Smoking is shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer's Disease. People who smoke have an 80 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer's compared to those who never smoke. Smoking is also one of the most preventable risk factors. If you do not smoke and you want to manage your Alzheimer's risk, do not start smoking. If you do smoke, consider stopping soon. It will increase brain circulation.
#6 - Prevent Head Trauma
Research has shown strong links between head trauma and risk of later developing Alzheimer's Disease. The risk is further increased if the head injury was associated with a loss of consciousness. Reduce your risk of Alzheimer's by preventing falls and protecting your head. To do this wear a seat beat in the car and wear a helmet while riding a bike or participating in any sports activities.
#7 - Keep Your Mind Active
Research has shown that keeping the mind active will help to maintain cognitive functioning during aging. This is true as well for those who are at risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. There are many ways to keep the mind active and maintain or build connections between nerve cells.
Research suggests that the best way to keep the brain active is by learning new information. This could be done through reading and other activities that will stimulate cognitive activity. According to research, this cognitive stimulation seems to help maintain abilities in thinking skills but does not necessarily help with the tasks or activities of daily living.
#8 - Stay Socially Connected
Just as continual physical and mental activity help to maintain cognitive functioning in older adulthood, so does the social activity. It can sometimes be challenging for seniors to remain socially connected as they retire from their jobs, children leave home, and loved ones pass away.
It can be helpful for older adults to remain connected to family and friends. Senior adults can also stay socially active by maintaining hobbies and volunteering. These activities can also help seniors to feel fulfilled and give their life a continual sense of meaning. In contrast, not being active can make older adults feel as though they are alone and stagnating. The social activity also helps with mental stimulation.
#9 - Receive Regular Medical Care
Although there are many steps towards prevention that you can take on your own, prevention of Alzheimer's Disorder also relies on generally good health. Receiving regular medical care is important for the maintenance of good health and the prevention of various medical problems.
Having some medical problems can also increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's Disease. For example, research shows a connection between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's. Studies suggest as many as 80 percents of individuals who have Alzheimer's Disease have cardiovascular disease.
As a result of such links, it is helpful to prevent or maintain these health conditions. In receiving medical care, it is important to seek evaluation when you have symptoms or conditions that seem to need treatment. Then, it is helpful to follow any medical recommendations for tests and treatments.
#10 - Manage Stress And Anxiety
Research shows that stress, especially when it is chronic or persistent, can lead to changes in the brain. Those changes can reduce nerve cell growth and increase the risk of Alzheimer's Disease. Stress management is scientifically shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's Disease. You can manage stress with breathing techniques and relaxation activities.
Normal aging leads to changes in memory and cognitive functioning. When those changes are unusually severe, it could indicate a concerning condition such as dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. There are many ways to promote your physical and mental health for optimal aging. By taking preventative measures, memory loss and cognitive decline can even be drastically slowed down or prevented.
Another way to optimize your health is by tending to your mental and emotional well-being too. To accomplish this, many people seek out therapeutic support. Some people find this particularly helpful for dealing with the changes that are associated with aging. Trained counselors can help anyone, including seniors, to improve their quality of life. Today, many people are choosing to seek help through online platforms. This makes the process of therapy convenient and comfortable for anyone.