How to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease isn’t curable — yet. However, we can all take precautions that may help to prevent it, and we should, since everyone is at risk of developing dementia.
Dementia isn’t a natural part of aging, although age is a risk factor. The mind-altering disease can take a long time to develop, so the risk increases with age. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, a person’s risk of developing dementia doubles every five years after age 65, and about two in 100 people in their late 60s have dementia. Among those who are 90 or older, about 33 in every 100 people have dementia.
The good news is that life expectancy in the U.S. has increased over the years, and since growing older is better than the alternative, it behooves us all to stay as cognitively healthy as possible.
Health conditions may also factor into your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. High blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and obesity can increase your risk. Regular checkups with your healthcare provider are essential if you’re serious about addressing those health concerns.
Lifestyle plays a key role
Healthy lifestyle choices can also help you guard against developing Alzheimer’s disease.
A study funded by the National Institute on Aging and published in Neurology in 2020 found that combining more healthy lifestyle choices can reduce a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. According to data collected from more than 3,000 research participants, those who adhered to at least four of five specified lifestyle behaviors had a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
The specified lifestyle behaviors included:
- At least 2.5 hours of physical activity every week.
- Not smoking.
- Limiting alcohol consumption.
- Combining the Mediterranean diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, diet. This approach, known as the MIND diet, focuses on plant-based foods that have been linked to dementia prevention.
- Cognitive activities to keep the mind intellectually engaged.
Are you exercising your body and your brain? Do you smoke or consume an excessive amount of alcohol? What about your diet? By making healthy lifestyle choices, you can significantly decrease your Alzheimer’s risk. There are no guarantees, but concentrating on these areas could be life-changing for you and your family.
It’s never too late to make healthy choices, so if your diet is out of whack, you drink a little too much, or you haven’t exercised in years, get going now. Speak with your primary physician to learn if rigorous exercise is OK for you, and if it’s not, ask them to provide a safe alternative. If limiting your alcohol intake is difficult, a 12-step program can help you gain control for the sake of your cognitive ability.
Most of us don’t have an active role in curing Alzheimer’s disease, but taking steps to reduce our risk is in our hands.
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.