Alzheimer’s disease is not an inevitable part of aging. It is a medical condition, and medical professionals can help you take steps to prevent or manage it. There are lifestyle choices and changes that can reduce your chances of getting the condition or slow its progress if you do get it.
Alzheimer’s doesn’t strike all elderly people, but nearly all patients with the disease are over the age of 60. There’s a genetic component to Alzheimer’s risk, and most people who get it have or had at least one blood relative who also had the condition. Causes and risk factors are still being studied, but is seems to particularly strike women and long-term hypertension patients. Perhaps unsurprisingly, head trauma appears to also be related to incidence of Alzheimer’s.
Patients generally show increasingly clear signs of a gradual cognitive decline as the disease progresses. One of the best-known and most worrying symptoms is wandering; Alzheimer’s patients may, without warning, go off, possibly into danger. Wandering is generally the result of disorientation in an unfamiliar environment, or one that has become unfamiliar due to memory loss. In other instances, the person may be reliving the past, trying to carry out decades-old routines now obsolete, unwanted, or impossible.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, but some strategies can help reduce the odds of developing dementia. Keep your mind active; various studies have touted the benefits of crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and a host of other mental exercises. Physical activity and staying fit also seem to help. In particular, keeping your blood pressure under control can help lower your Alzheimer’s risk. Indeed, according to one recent study, blood pressure medication itself may help prevent Alzheimer’s.
Pharmaceuticals are not, of course, the only solution. Researchers are looking into preventing or controlling Alzheimer’s with lifestyle-based and other non-drug approaches. Quitting smoking, getting out and getting exercise, and generally heart-healthy activity all help protect you from the ravages of dementia.