Lifestyle Choices You Can Make To Delay or Prevent Alzheimer's
As someone who has seen several family members succumb to Alzheimer's and dementia, I am constantly asking myself what I can do to prevent this terrible disease from happening to me. I've read several shareposts or comments by readers of this web site that indicate that they share similar concerns. It isn't easy to admit that perhaps Alzheimer's is in my genetic makeup and I'm destined to get it, but I also realize I have control over lifestyle choices that might have an impact on when or whether I get Alzheimer's.
For instance, many visitors to this site have read the research that links smoking to Alzheimer's as well as my sharepost that describes my mother's many years of smoking. I know that some caregivers have said that their loved ones developed Alzheimer's without ever having smoked a day. Yet, smoking has been linked to so many health issues that this new research should be regarded very seriously by Baby Boomers who worry about getting dementia. I've been fortunate in that I never took up this habit (although I was exposed to a lot of second-hand smoke from Mom's cigarettes). But if I did happen to smoke right now (knowing Mom's diagnosis and this research), I'd be laying out a plan and seeking help to kick the habit.
Another thing I can control are workouts - both mental and physical. In an article entitled, "21 Things You Can Stop Worrying About Right Now" in the August 2007 issue of O Magazine, Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is the professor of cardiac surgery at Columbia University and founder of the Complementary Medicine Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, encourages readers to find ways to challenge the brain not only through mental workouts, but also through new types of physical exercise. Exercise, according to Dr. Oz, "gives you a two-fold benefit: First whether you're learning a new sport or playing one you know, it makes your brain work in ways that it doesn't normally....Second, while crossword puzzles build your vocabulary, exercise builds your vascular system and promotes healthier blood vessesl, so you can stave off the small strokes that are often part of the dementia picture."
Diet is another factor over which we all have control. Therefore, those who are worried about getting dementia should pay attention to in a new study published in the September 11, 2007 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Aademy of Neurology. This study followed 182 people with Alzheimer's disease in New York for an average of 4.5 years. Researchers found that those who most closely followed a Mediterranean diet were 76 percent less likely to die during the study period than those who followed the diet the least. The researchers are planning additional work to determine whether eating a Mediterranean diet can slow the progression of cognitive decline in those who suffer from Alzheimer's.
Smoking, mental and physical exercise, and diet are some of the factors that we can control. Making good decisions today regarding the choices in each of these areas may help each of us avoid dementia, or at least delay its onset. Those choices are important to take seriously now, before it's too late.
To read more on the mediterranean diet and the importance of lifestyle choices, check out Expert Caregiver Carol Bradley Bursack's blog Diet May Help Alzheimer's Patients Live Longer, But What About Their Quality of Life? or read Health Journalist Craig Stoltz's post More Evidence That a Healthy Diet Fights Alzheimer's. To learn other ways of how you can prevent Alzheimer's, go to our Alzheimer's Prevention page.