Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Factors & Prevention
Alzheimer’s disease affects millions of Americans. An increasing number of assisted living facilities are solely focused on Alzheimer’s and memory related care. The Oasis Assisted Living Home is dedicated to keeping our readers informed for ease of planning and being able to take the best care of your loved ones.
Even though there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, research shows that age and genetics are known risk factors. You will find several suggestions in this article, but it would also be wise to research what choices you can make that may help prevent you from getting this disease.
Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease
Although no one knows for sure what causes Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have identified two known risk factors: age and genetics.
The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases as you get older. An estimated 5 percent of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have Alzheimer’s, but that number jumps to almost 50 percent if you are over the age of 85. The majority of Alzheimer’s patients in the Unites States have late-onset Alzheimer’s, which typically develops after the age of 60.
Research suggests that late-onset Alzheimer’s disease is not inherited. Scientists have not found a specific gene mutation that causes this, but there have been cases of late-onset within the same family. That’s one reason why scientists continue to study how genes can affect this form of the disease.
A rare form of Alzheimer’s that affects younger patients, is known as early-onset. It occurs in no more than 5 percent of cases and tends to develop before the age of 60. Studies show that in most cases it does run in families. This inherited form of early-onset is known as Familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD). If your family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, make sure that any type of assisted living facility that you may be considering, has the qualified personnel on staff for support.
More on Familial Alzheimer’s Disease (FAD)
FAD is caused by number of different gene mutations on certain chromosomes (i.e., 1, 14, and 21). If a parent carries even a single genetic mutation for FAD, their children have a 50/50 chance of inheriting that mutation. If the mutation is inherited, the child is almost certain to develop FAD.
Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease
Today, there isn’t a proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. But there is research that suggests making certain healthy lifestyle choices could help improve your quality of life.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Researchers are trying to understand if how we eat and what types of food we eat will lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Eating a diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and food low in sugar and saturated fat—such as the Mediterranean Diet—can reduce the incidence of many chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Will this also protect against Alzheimer’s? Large human clinical trials will have to be done to make a determination, but while scientists pursue more evidence, you may find that eating well increases your greater overall health.
Exercise Your Body and Mind
Physical exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and some studies suggest that it can improve cognitive agility. For an Alzheimer’s patient, exercise may also help maintain muscle strength, decrease frailty, and elevate mood. Most senior assisted living communities will have daily exercise classes that residents may participate in.
Some research suggests that “exercising our brain,” through activities like reading, learning a musical instrument, or playing chess, can help protect people from cognitive decline later in life. Again, rigorous clinical trials will be required to prove this is true. In the meantime, learning new skills and activities may, at a minimum, enrich your life.
Decrease Risk of Head Trauma
We are learning from people with battlefield or sports injuries that past traumatic head injury may be associated with Alzheimer’s. Your risk increases if the injury involved you losing consciousness, or if you’ve had multiple head injuries from playing contact sports. This discovery is fueling public health efforts to improve the protective quality of helmets, and reduce the rates of head injuries in certain sports.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, the research conducted has advanced greatly, giving doctors and care givers more opportunity for better care. If you are searching for an assisted living facility specifically for memory care, be sure to ask all the questions you may have, before making such a major decision. The Oasis Assisted Living Home would be happy to care for your love one that is suffering with Alzheimer's. There are a lot of senior living communities out there, so make sure you choose the right one for your family member.