Alzheimer’s disease is a widely known and feared health condition for people in their senior years. Most people know it as a disorder that affects memory, but it is actually more complex than that.
Now that you are in your golden age, it’s about time to learn the essential information about Alzheimer’s disease. This way, you can proactively take steps to prevent it from happening to you and your fellow older adults in your Alzheimer’s senior living community.
So, here are some of the most important details about this debilitating illness and how you can prevent it.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Known to affect millions of Americans aged 65 and up, Alzheimer’s disease is a cognitive condition characterized by memory loss and decline in thinking skills, language, and communication. Over time, a senior with the disease can have difficulty functioning daily and carrying out simple tasks.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. It occurs when the neurons or brain cells get damaged, causing them to malfunction and gradually die. As a result, both mental and physical aspects of a patient get affected, making life more difficult.
Alzheimer’s disease is NOT a normal part of aging, but old age definitely increases your risk of developing it. Other factors include:
- Family history
- Gender (women are more likely to develop it than men)
- Head injury or trauma
- Existing health conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart diseases.
Fortunately, Alzheimer’s does not start in its severe state right away. Instead, patients usually develop a set of telltale signs and symptoms indicating that an Alzheimer’s disease might be brewing under wraps.
What are the Early Symptoms of Alzheimer’s?
Science has yet to discover a definite cure for Alzheimer’s disease. So your best bet is prevention or early detection so you can get the treatment plan that you need to prevent it from worsening.
So, here are some of the most common warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease that you should watch out for. If you ever observe these things in yourself or loved ones, it’s best to schedule a check-up with your GP at once,
- Memory Loss – this is the most common and earliest sign of Alzheimer’s disease. This includes forgetting recently learned information and not remembering them later on, saying things over and over again, and asking questions repeatedly.
- Familiar tasks can suddenly become challenging
- Speaking and communication problems
- Difficulty in planning, problem-solving, and financial management.
- Poor judgement (e.g., neglecting to groom oneself or clean the house).
- Trouble with spatial and visual images.
- Withdrawal from social activities and hobbies.
- Changes in mood, personality, and behavior.
Experiencing one of these symptoms might also point to other physical and mental conditions. However, experiencing two or more simultaneously can already be the start of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you ever observe a change in your or your senior loved one’s mood, behavior, and personality, don’t worry. There are many doctors and Alzheimer’s senior living communities ready to help you or your loved one.
What Can You Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
Most cases of Alzheimer’s disease are preventable, especially if you don’t have any family history of the said condition. One easy way to dodge this brain disorder is to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. This includes:
1. Staying Physically Active
What does exercise have to do with preventing a neurologic disorder? Well, according to several studies, seniors who exercise regularly lower their risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This is because physical activity actually does several wonders to your brain!
For starters, it prevents cognitive decline by strengthening brain functions, like memory and thinking. Plus, exercise promotes good circulation, thus increasing the nutrients and oxygen delivery in the brain.
Start by doing low-impact aerobic exercises for 20 to 30 minutes per day. For example, you can try walking, cycling, jogging, and even water aerobics.
2. Eating Healthily
There are no specific foods that can ward off Alzheimer’s disease. BUT, a healthy, balanced diet can definitely prevent you from developing certain conditions that will increase your risk of getting Alzheimer’s. This includes:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol in the blood
- Cardiovascular diseases
Some healthy eating tips you can use include eating five portions of fruit and vegetables daily, sticking to fatless and skinless meat, consuming low to non-fat products, and eating healthy fats from fatty fish, seeds, and nuts.
3. Engaging in Mental and Social Activities
Participate in mentally stimulating activities to keep your brain healthy and active. For example, you can enroll in online courses, learn an instrument, or play mentally enhancing games.
Another way is to join senior groups or clubs to have the opportunity to socialize with other people. Some great activities that can stimulate you mentally and socially include:
- Volunteering or doing charity work.
- Joining a book club.
- Participating in group classes of your hobby of choice.
- Engaging with your spiritual brothers and sisters.
- Inviting friends or family members to do arts and crafts projects.
Senior living communities also organize family events and social activities for their residents. Make sure to check those out and join in on the fun!
4. Avoiding Smoking and Drinking Alcohol
Countless studies found out that excessive smoking and alcohol consumption increases one’s risk of developing dementia. Additionally, these two vices do nothing but expose you to several health conditions that make you prone to get Alzheimer’s disease in the future. Plus, long-time smoking and alcohol drinking can lead to cognitive impairment as you age.
5. Attending Regular Check-ups
Practicing these healthy living habits does not mean you get to skip your doctor’s appointments. It’s vital to get regularly checked by your GP so they can detect any diseases early on, including Alzheimer’s.
Furthermore, they can recommend specific diet plans, workout regimens, stress management techniques, and other practices to maintain your overall health. Also, attending your check-ups allows your GP to diagnose diseases early and put you in a suitable treatment plan.
There might not be a cure for Alzheimer’s yet, but your doctor can prescribe certain medications to fight off the symptoms. They can also recommend a good care team or Alzheimer’s senior living facility to help you live a quality life.