February 26, 2015

5 Tips for Decreasing Your Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease

Family & Caregiver, Memory & Brain Health, Senior Health & Wellness

If you are the adult child or spouse of a senior with Alzheimer’s disease, you have likely wondered and worried about your risk for developing it. This is a natural reaction to watching someone you love suffer with this debilitating disease. One of the challenges to knowing how to prevent Alzheimer’s is that we don’t know what causes it. While there are working theories, there is no definitive conclusion.

Over the years researchers have developed some recommendations they believe can help you avoid or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. From diet to smoking, these suggestions are some to consider if you are concerned you may be at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Brain Health Recommendations

Here are five steps you can take to protect your cognitive health:

  1. Befriend Your Local Barista: For years we were told to limit coffee drinking to just one cup a day. Newer research disputes that recommendation. It revealed that drinking up to four cups of coffee a day may protect you from developing Alzheimer’s. A word of caution however. If you have coronary disease, talk with your physician before adding more coffee to your day. Cardiologists typically advise their patients to avoid caffeine.
  2. Stop Smoking:  While most people know that smoking increases the risk for cancer and cardiac disease, what many aren’t aware of is that it has also been linked to higher rates of Alzheimer’s.  Research indicates smoking can increase the risk by as much as 157%.
  3. Brain Aerobics: To protect your brain and prevent Alzheimer’s, stay mentally engaged and continue to learn new things. You can give your brain a daily work out by playing cards, working puzzles, learning to play a musical instrument or tackling a new foreign language.  There are also several acclaimed mobile apps that focus on brain exercises.  (We’ll follow up with another blog post about this topic.)
  4. Healthy Diet: Countries that follow a Mediterranean style of eating have lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease. A brain healthy diet is considered to be one rich in fruit, fish, nuts, beans and vegetables. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important in preventing or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s. They can be found in salmon, tuna, and walnuts. More foods are being enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids. That makes it easier to work more Omegas in to your daily diet. Check the labels on foods such as eggs, peanut butter and butter replacement spreads like Smart Balance and Benecol.
  5. Keep Moving:  Exercise is another way to help decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s. Getting regular exercise can help you keep your blood pressure lower and manage stress. Both health conditions have been linked to higher rates of Alzheimer’s.

If you would like to learn more about Alzheimer’s prevention, visit the Research Center at the Alzheimer’s Association. It has a variety of videos and articles you may find to be of help.