Unfortunately, most of us know Alzheimer’s disease all too well. This progressive, degenerative disorder causes problems with memory, thinking, speaking skills, and even changes in behavior. But is there anything we can do to stop it?
According to Alz.org, an estimated 5.2 million people are afflicted over the age of 65. But Alzheimer’s is not a pre-determined part of the aging process. There are steps you can take to dramatically reduce your vulnerability to this disease, and we have outlined them for you right here:
- Physical Exercise
Studies show physical activity ranks as the most potent Alzheimer’s prevention technique. Those who exercised at least 3 time a week for a minimum of 15-30 minutes were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, even if the disease ran in their families.
Here are a few simple, effective exercises to try:
- Walking at least a mile every day. A simple walk helps provide a boost in mood, improves coordination and balance, and strengthens your bone density. A study done by University of Pittsburgh found that those who walked six to nine miles a week had a greater volume of gray matter in their brains when they were tested nine years later.
- Dancing: A study done by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found dancing reduces the risk for dementia more than any other type of physical activity (even more than doing crossword puzzles). If you dance with a group or a partner, not only are you being physically active, but you are also being social and learning new skills to improve intellectual fitness.
- Incorporating anti-inflammatory, high-antioxidant foods in your diet
Blue Zones are areas around the world in which citizens live substantially longer lives. One of the common factors in all of these places is their plant-based diets.
The key is consuming more vegetables and less processed foods. In a study of 3,718 people (ages 65 and older), those who consumed more than four daily servings of vegetables had a 40 percent slower rate of cognitive decline (NCBI). Juicing is a great way to get these servings if you are someone who dislikes veggies.
- Being social
In a study done by Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, older adults who frequently spent time with others – such as with book clubs, dinner dates, or spending time with family – had a 70% lower rate of cognitive decline over 12 years than those with fewer interactions.
Buildings new friendships when you are older just takes some proactive effort. Join clubs. Find people who share the same interests as you. Reunite with old coworkers. This social engagement will be a huge benefit to your quality of life moving forward.
- Keeping your brain active
“If you don’t use it, you lose it”
Our brain is a 3 pound muscle that loses strength if you don’t use it. Challenging your brain to learn new things is a great help in preventing cognitive decline. Simple crossword puzzles, reading or playing an instrument are great ways to keep your brain active. Seniors who took painting, drawing or sculpting for 4 years were 73% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than those who did not engage in artistic activities. These fun activities help focus attention and keep the brain active. (NICABM)
Don’t wait. The sooner you take action, the better your chances of avoiding this tragic disease.
What are some of your strategies for staying mentally fit? Share with the community!