September is World Alzheimer’s Month.
A range of emotions and reactions hits when a loved-one starts showing signs of advanced dementia.
I have even known people who didn’t want to remember their loved-one that way, so they refused to see them.
In a recent Continuing Education class I took from a professor at Emory University’s Alzheimer’s research center, here are some tips for having the best chance at preventing dementia.
Did you know…
There are over 90 causes of dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease is only one of them?
Alzheimer’s can only be diagnosed by autopsy? This would also then mean that it can’t be properly diagnosed as Alzheimer’s-type dementia while people are alive.
An MRI of the brain shows the exact pattern that distinguishes it as Alzheimer’s vs one of the many other forms of dementia.
I was unable to obtain a picture of a brain MRI but if you Google MRI Alzheimer’s brain, you will see images of how they look. There you can look for an image that has normal brain next to Alzheimer’s brain so you can see the difference.
Alzheimer’s patients also have neuron fiber tangles and plaques on the brain from a protein called amyloid protein.
Those plaques show up at least 20 years before symptoms do, although not everyone who has them develops dementia.
- Age is the biggest risk factor – over age 60-65. 44% with Alzheimer’s are aged 74-85.
- More women than men seem to be affected
- Genetics – there is a marker they can test for. Having the marker makes you vulnerable, but genetics WITH environment and other risk factors weighs more heavily than genetics alone
- Genetics- 4 major genes for early-onset, but just 1 risk-factor gene for late-onset Alzheimer’s
- Family history – first-degree relatives
- Head trauma
- Older African-Americans and older Hispanics are more likely to have Alzheimer’s than older Caucasians
Can you prevent getting dementia or Alzheimer’s?
Key Habits of People Unlikely to Develop Alzheimer’s
- Not being a hermit crab. Get out of your house and socialize.
- Not overweight. Alzheimer’s is linked to obesity.
- Other cardiovascular risk factors – high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking should all be avoided.
- They engage the brain and are lifelong learners. Always be challenging your mind with things. Educate yourself on new things, especially music and learning a second language.
- Having purpose in life – derive meaning from life experiences
- Having clear goals and intentions.
- Decrease/eliminate inflammation.
- Getting a good night’s sleep.
- Minimal alcohol intake (low-moderate amt).
Drugs and Vaccines
The dementia medicines currently on the market in 2019 are only able to slow the progression of symptoms.
No current medicine is available as a cure or to treat dementia, because of what we still do not know about what actually causes the dementia.
A vaccine is being researched and developed.
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