As a neurologist people often ask me what they can do to avoid, or prevent Alzheimer’s. While I’d love to tell them we have a vaccination for it, we simply don’t. However, we know today that there are LOTS of ways to delay the onset or slow the progression of the disease. Most of these don’t cost a thing, just a little time and personal commitment . Here I’m going to describe some of these preventive measures. Be sure to sign up for our free newsletter (bottom of this page) to stay informed on the latest research.
Age, family history, and genetic makeup are among the factors we can’t change. But there are other risk factors that you can manage. Safety precautions, such as wearing a seat belt or “fall-proofing” your home can prevent head injury. And head injuries are a risk factor for developing dementia.
Cardiovascular disease is another risk factor, which is all too prevalent in our society. Healthy habits, such as a good diet, regular exercise, and avoidance of tobacco use, can prevent the heart-related problems that often lead to Alzheimer’s. Staying socially active and exercising your mind also can help keep your brain healthy and decrease risk. The important thing is to focus on what you can do to decrease your risk, and make the necessary changes to do so. Frequently it’s helpful to find other like-minded individuals who also want to make positive, healthy changes.
To help you take the first steps in creating a healthier you, we’ve put together an easy to use checklist. The checklist contains several important categories, such as Exercise, Social Opportunities, Mental Stimulation and Dietary Supplements. It’s important to choose activities you love, and doing them often with friends increases the enjoyment. Switching activities occasionally will help keep your mind even sharper and may even keep you more engaged so you don’t get bored doing the same thing day after day.
You will likely find most suggestions easy to understand and implement, such as reading books, gardening or attending support groups. But others, such as which dietary supplements are the best, can be difficult to discern. That’s why we’ve researched dietary supplements and specifically recommend two that contain most of the nutrients shown in studies to actually work.
Exercise increases circulation and blood flow to the brain to help your mind work better, and to help you feel better. Research shows that exercising with a friend on a regular basis increases the likelihood that you’ll stick with it. So grab a buddy and have some fun. Or join regular classes at your local gym or community center.
Keeping the mind active and engaged is crucial for staving off Alzheimer’s. There are many options here to engage you. For online challenges, I recommend the brain games by Lumosity at Lumosity.com.
Medications may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer. Here are a few to discuss with your healthcare provider.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (consult your physician)
Statins (consult your physician)
Anti-inflammatory agents (Ibuprofen, 200 mg daily)
Nutrition is clearly involved in Alzheimer’s. Eating an optimal diet means consuming adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish, while minimizing refined sugars.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish
Eating habits (avoid eating after 7 p.m.)
Water (at least three glasses per day)