Watching a loved one suffer from a mental decline in their elder years is heartbreaking. Nothing can prepare you for seeing that look in someone’s eyes when they recognize that they’ve forgotten something they should know.
While Alzheimer’s rates have been on the rise, there’s good news. Studies show that as many as half or more of Alzheimer’s disease cases are preventable.
It’s true that genetics play a strong role in your risk for Alzheimer’s disease. However, researchers are finding more and more ways your lifestyle choices will impact your risk.
Controllable Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease
Everyone wants their life to be as healthy and enjoyable as possible. To boost your chances, keep an eye on these controllable risk factors:
It seems like every day we’re finding new ways obesity affects health, and Alzheimer’s disease is on that list. From the existing research, it doesn’t appear that obesity itself leads to Alzheimer’s disease. However, it does increase the risk of several other problems that can lead to Alzheimer’s.
2. High Blood Pressure
There are plenty of factors that contribute to high blood pressure. However, it can cause plenty of issues of its own, and Alzheimer’s disease is one of them. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the brain, increasing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
You’ll notice that blood flow to the brain is a common theme in this list. Smoking limits your circulation, including the blood flow to your brain, which can add up to Alzheimer’s.
4. Lack of Education
Your brain isn’t exactly a muscle, but it needs exercise like one. Mental stimulation builds brainpower, and the more brainpower you start with, the more your brain will be able to compensate for mental decline as you age.
5. Middle-Aged Hearing Loss
This risk factor surprises many people, but a variety of studies have shown a link. Researchers don’t know why people who experience hearing loss have a higher risk of future Alzheimer’s disease. However, one theory is that it lowers brain stimulation.
This is another risk factor that’s a bit of a mystery. It’s clear that social isolation can boost your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but the reason is unknown. It appears that feeling lonely is more important that a person’s social circumstances. In some cases, living in an assisted living facility with like-minded friends may help.
7. Uncontrolled Diabetes
Both type one and type two diabetes affect your body’s balance of blood sugar and insulin. As unfortunate as it is, both of them will impact your risk for Alzheimer’s.
An insulin imbalance can affect your brain function and impact your ability to form and access memories. The good news is that controlling your diabetes can keep your risk to a minimum.
8. Lack of Exercise
We’re back on blood flow again. Exercise promotes a healthy circulatory system, and that includes the blood to the brain that stimulates brain health. As an added bonus, regular exercise can limit other risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes.
9. Untreated Depression
Depression is a hormonal imbalance that slows down the body’s nervous system, which includes the brain. Researchers have found that people with depression that isn’t controlled are at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
How To Reduce Your Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Factors
As important as the information above may be, it only helps if you know how to use it. Try these tips to reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease:
1. Exercise On a Regular Basis
Staying active can go a long way toward keeping your brain healthy. It promotes blood flow and lowers your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, and type two diabetes.
2. Don’t Smoke
If you smoke, giving it up is one of the fastest ways to improve your health, including lowering your risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Smoking can also increase your blood pressure, which is another risk factor.
3. Use Your Brain
The more you use your brain, the stronger it can become. If you head into your senior years with a strong brain, you have a greater chance of withstanding Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Eat Healthy
A healthy diet can cut down on several Alzheimer’s risk factors, like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. As an added bonus, a brain-friendly diet gives your brain all the nutrients it needs to function at its best.
5. Keep Up a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Sleeping well is another one of those habits that affect several aspects of your health. Your resistance to Alzheimer’s disease is no exception. When you’re sleep deprived, your brain loses out on certain hormones it needs to function well.
As an added bonus, sufficient sleep gives you the energy you need to stay active and make other good health choices.
6. Keep an Active Social Calendar
Social isolation can lower your mental stimulation and can also contribute to depression. To keep your brain healthy, make friends who enjoy the same hobbies as you or make time to connect with family on a regular basis.
7. Seek Help for Any Mental Health Issues
Most of us struggle with some aspect of mental health at times, whether it’s anxiety, depression, or other issues. If you’re struggling with any emotional concerns, talk to a psychologist who can get you on the right track.
Staying Healthy from Head to Toe
Alzheimer’s disease is a serious health concern for the aging population. However, the reality is that your lifestyle choices at any age can affect your risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Whether you’re in your 20s or your 80s, taking charge of your health is never a choice you’ll regret.
If you have loved ones who are showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, help them with the risk management strategies above while seeking professional care. If it’s time for a more comprehensive approach, learn more about our memory care facility.