Can We Prevent Alzheimer’s?
There is no evidence that anything can prevent Alzheimer’s. But there are some things we can do to help slow memory loss and cognitive impairment. These include improving sleep quality, getting regular exercise, controlling blood pressure, engaging in cognitive training and changing eating habits.
Improve Sleep Quality: If you, your sleeping partner or a roommate suspect you have sleep apnea, get tested and follow through with any recommended treatment. Other sleep disrupters include restless leg syndrome, insomnia, jet lag, sleepwalking, night terrors, and stress. If your sleep suffers from any of these, talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist about steps you can take to start getting restful sleep.
Get regular exercise: Moderate aerobic exercise, like brisk walking, can have an effect on reducing cognitive impairment later in life. Experts say to aim for 150 minutes a week (30 minutes five times a week). Exercise increases the blood flow to all parts of the body, including the brain, improves physical conditioning and lifts your spirits.
Lower your blood pressure: Controlling blood pressure helps prevent heart disease. There is also evidence it can reduce the risk of memory loss and dementia because high blood pressure damages delicate blood vessels in the brain.
Engage in cognitive training: According to Dr. Ronald Peterson, an Alzheimer’s expert at the Mayo Clinic, this doesn’t mean crossword puzzles or Sudoku, although those won’t hurt. Instead, he suggests working on memory improvement techniques, called mnemonic techniques. These can include finding a new way to remember a list of grocery items; figuring a tip in your head instead of using a calculator; using new strategies that will help you process and locate information more quickly and efficiently; and working on techniques that will help you remember names and other vital information.
Dr. Peterson cautions that most “brain games” have done little more than show they make people better at playing them. He also encourages people to get out and do things, instead of sitting and watching television for hours.
Clean up eating habits: You probably know that sugary foods are not good for you. But did you also know that carbs turn into sugar in your body? And did you know that both can have devastating effects on your brain? Dr. David Permutter is a renowned neurologist. His book, Grain Brain, may provide some insights that just might change your life for the better.
Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease. There is no cure. Current medicines, when started early, only help with symptoms for a while and have no real effect on the disease itself. Therefore, we owe it to ourselves, our families, and those we serve to do everything we can to protect our brains from Alzheimer’s for as long as possible and to educate others about how to do so.
If we can be of assistance to you or the seniors you work with, please don’t hesitate to reach out.