Tips to Delay Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

 

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By 2050, 131 million people could be living with dementia globally. Research continues to focus on identifying a cure to solve the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease. While there is not a cure yet, a few lifestyle changes may help delay memory loss.

 

Cognitive Training

According to Dr. Ronald Petersen, an Alzheimer’s expert at the Mayo Clinic, “Offering the greatest hope for delaying cognitive impairment – the loss of the ability to think clearly and make decisions – is specialized memory training exercises.”

He explained that this form of therapy does not involve crosswords or Sudoku puzzles, but rather is taking everyday activities and developing specific systems to help you remember.

Instead of writing out a grocery list, create a mnemonic device to remember the items you need while you’re shopping. Use mental math to calculate tips and weekly spending instead of using a calculator.

Relying on your mind and less on outside sources for help will allow you to exercise your brain and develop techniques in the event you experience a level of cognitive decline at some point in your life.

 

Exercise

A study led by Laura Baker and completed by Wake Forest University Medical School found that levels of tau, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s, declined in those who exercised vigorously.

Exercisers had better blood flow in the memory and processing centers of their brains and had measurable improvement in attention, planning, and organizing abilities referred to as executive function.

About the discovery Baker said, "These findings are important because they strongly suggest a potent lifestyle intervention such as aerobic exercise can impact Alzheimer's-related changes in the brain," Baker said. "No currently approved medication can rival these effects."

Aerobic exercise includes activities that raise heart rate, such as walking, swimming and cycling. In order to achieve the best results, you should participate in 150 minutes of aerobic exercise, 30 minutes, five days a week.

 

Blood Pressure Control

Controlling blood pressure is something people should do to prevent heart disease. But good evidence shows it can also reduce the risk of memory loss and dementia, as high blood pressure can damage delicate blood vessels in the brain.

Roughly, 8 percent of Alzheimer's cases are linked to mid-life hypertension. There is growing evidence to suggest that hypertensive people who do not have their blood pressure adequately treated and controlled in midlife are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

In one analysis of 25 clinical trials, losing an average of 11 pounds shaved 4.4 points off blood pressure (the top number) and 3.6 points off resting heart rate (the bottom number). Other studies have found that modest weight loss can prevent hypertension in overweight people, even if they don’t reduce the amount of sodium in their diet.

In addition to exercise you can control your blood pressure with changes to your diet. Consider adopting the DASH diet: high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish and nuts, and low in harmful fats, red meat, sweets and sugary drinks. The effects can be quick with blood pressure reductions in just two weeks.

 

Hope Without a Cure

Adopting these lifestyle changes may help delay the symptoms of memory loss, but it does not guarantee symptoms will never appear or provide a cure. Continue to see your doctor regularly and share any concerns you may have.

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