Pay Yourself First to Ward Off Alzheimer's Disease

Dr. Cindy Haines Health Guide
  • Making changes today for some abstract reward in the distant future may not get you too excited. However, this is exactly what we do when we sock money away for our financial retirement - paying ourselves first.

    And while we may think a lot about our financial health in retirement, we tend to not give as much thought to our actual health in retirement. But this must change: We need to start thinking about our health in retirement if we want to be able to enjoy the money we worked so hard to save.

    The call to pay ourselves first has been heard. We strive to save and diligently put money away in our 401K and 403B plans, saving for a rainy day - or saving six months of living expenses if we listen to Suze Orman. Can you afford it?

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    The same logic can be ascribed to planning for our health in the future. While we cannot plan for everything, many of the most expensive and debilitating chronic diseases are, in fact, largely preventable. Alzheimer's disease may be in that same category, according to new research presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2011. This research tells us that the daily choices we make can have a tremendous impact on our risk of developing this devastating disease.

    In one study, researchers figured that many cases of Alzheimer's disease are due to modifiable factors that play into a whole host of other chronic diseases, as well: physical inactivity, smoking, hypertension and obesity in middle age, and diabetes.

    The researchers estimated that up to 21 percent of cases may be due to physical inactivity, 11 percent to smoking, 8 percent to hypertension in middle age, 7 percent to obesity in middle age, and 3 percent to diabetes. Other factors implicated by the researchers were depression and low education. By reducing all seven of these risk factors by 25 percent, the researchers estimated that this could help prevent nearly half a million Alzheimer's cases in the U.S. in coming years.

    And just think about how many other life-threatening diseases you can protect yourself from by getting these risk factors knocked out. Heart disease, diabetes, strokes -even cancer- among them.

    Why not live a healthier lifestyle now to prevent this enormous range of chronic and debilitating diseases? Alzheimer's disease as one. Can you afford not to?

    For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out Dr. Cynthia Haines' book The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System(HCI Books, Dr. Cynthia Haines and Eric Metcalf).

Published On: August 23, 2011