September 21 marks World Alzheimer’s Day, an observance aimed to create awareness about Alzheimer disease and the stigma that surrounds it. Alzheimer disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the bran to shrink and the brain cells die which leads to loss of memory, though and language. The symptoms of the disease usually appear after age 60, and the risk increases with aging. In 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease.
There is still no clear understanding among the scientists about the major causes of Alzheimer disease. There are several factors that can affect each person differently.
- Age is the most prominent risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Researchers believe that genetics may play a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease. So if you have a family history of Alzheimer disease then you may also get it.
- Changes in the brain can begin years before the first symptoms appear.
- Researchers are studying whether education, diet and environment play a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Head injuries can increase the chances of getting Alzheimer’s.
A healthy lifestyle with adequate physical activity may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t affect everyone, but there are some warnings and signs that you should look out for:
- Difficulty in completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Decreased or poor judgment.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
- Misplacing things and not being able to retrace steps to find them.
- Changes in mood, personality, or behavior.
- Trouble handling money and paying bills.
Although there is no way to prevent this disease, making certain lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
- Regular Exercise: Doing moderate exercise like walking or jogging a combination of cardio exercise and strength training can help. Moderate levels of weight and resistance training help you maintain brain health.
- Maintaining a Healthy Diet: Make sure to follow a healthy and balanced diet. One study found that people who were overweight in midlife were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. There is growing scientific evidence that healthy behaviors, which have been shown to prevent cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, may also reduce risk for subjective cognitive decline.
- Social Engagement: Being socially engaged can reduce your chances of getting Alzheimer’s. Maintain regular face to face connect with someone who cares about you. For a better social life, connect with friends, join a club or social group, take group classes, and so on.
- Proper Stress Management: Chronic stress can damage your brain drastically. It leads to shrinkage in a key memory area, hampering nerve cell growth, and thereby increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Here are stress management tools that can protect your brain:
- Tackle stress with abdominal breathing. Restorative breathing is powerful, simple, and free.
- Try relaxation activities such as meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation and reverse the damaging effects of stress.
- Make time to engage in activities that you like, such as reading a book, watching a movie, going out with friends, playing an instrument, etc.
- Quality of Sleep: The importance of sleep cannot be stressed enough. Poor sleep patterns can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Proper sleep helps to flush out the toxins in the brain. To improve your sleep, can consider the following:
- Set a regular sleeping schedule.
- Create a relaxing bedtime ritual like taking a hot bath, listen to some relaxing music, and dim the lights.
Making these lifestyle changes can help minimize the your chances of developing Alzheimer disease