Can Alzheimer's be prevented?

Posted: 11/19/2020 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
Nearly 6 million Americans are estimated to be living with Alzheimer's disease in 2020. With so many families affected by this debilitating disease, it's natural to have many questions. First, many families ask about treatments, and whether Alzheimer's has a cure. While there are several treatments that can sometimes slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease; however, there is unfortunately no cure. 

With that knowledge, many families and individuals then focus their attention on prevention. In fact, Alzheimer's disease prevention is a very common topic, with nearly 60 million search results on Google as of the publication of this post!

Steps you can take to prevent Alzheimer's disease  

Alzheimer's disease cannot be cured, and the exact cause isn't known by doctors and researchers. This is one reason why treatments are limited and a cure hasn't yet been found. But, it's also why prevention isn't quite isolated.

In other words, it's difficult to point to one specific thing (or more "things") and say for certain that they will absolutely prevent Alzheimer's disease. 

With that in mind, though, there is strong evidence that suggests specific steps can lower your risk, including:

Avoid Smoking

While there are MANY reasons to avoid smoking (or to quit if you are currently a smoker), many doctors believe that smoking increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease. So if you haven't already, now's the time to quit!

Exercise Regularly

Thirty minutes of vigorous exercise, at least three times per week, is the minimum recommendation to not only reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, but of a host of ailments, diseases and conditions. Of course, you should always speak to a doctor before beginning a new exercise program. Depending on any other conditions, your doctor may recommend easing into a new exercise regimen, or may recommend specific exercises. 

Eat a Healthy Diet

Yes, the lectures from your doctor and well-intentioned friends and family are for good reason -- eating a healthy diet with lots of lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables (especially dark leafy greens) is the best way to stave off a list of conditions, from cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, to yes, Alzheimer's disease. In particular, a whole food, plant based diet has shown promise in reducing inflammation and subsequently, your risk of Alzheimer's. Evidence also suggests eating a Mediterranean Diet can reduce your risk. Talk to your doctor to learn more about the eating habits that are best for you and your needs.

Get Enough Sleep 

We are bombarded with messages suggesting that we get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. With good reason! Researchers have found evidence that suggests getting more, better sleep is linked to better amyloid clearance from the brain, a protein in the brian associated with Alzheimer's disease. 

Stay Connected

In a physically-distanced world, it's more important than ever to stay socially connected to friends and family. Although the evidence is only observational, loneliness and social connection are linked to many health ailments, so whether it's via Zoom, or an outdoors cup of coffee while distancing and wearing a mask, be sure to stay connected to your loved ones. 

Exercise Your Brain

Exercising your heart and your body is important, but it's also critical to keep your brain active. Although evidence is limited, doctors suggest memory games and activities, learning new things, puzzles and other ways to keep your mind sharp as a tool to prevent Alzheimer's disease. Also, taking care of your mental health has also been linked to a lower risk for Alzheimer's disease. 

Are you caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia? 

These are some steps you can take right now to prevent Alzheimer's disease. And the best part? Most of them are easy to start doing right now! But, if your family is currently facing an Alzheimer's diagnosis, it's important to know that you're not alone. We've got a resource to help your family as your loved one's battle progresses. Download our Dementia Caregiver's Guide now for tips and advice