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Aging Health Mental Health

Let’s Talk About Alzheimer’s

Getting up in years sometimes brings with it unwanted dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Although it cannot be prevented yet, there are things that you can do to delay its onset. It can be especially valuable to help extend your longevity and give you a better quality of life. 

There are different types of dementia, but Alzheimer’s is the most common form. The disease leads to cognitive impairment and will increasingly impact the individual’s life as it progresses.

Currently, about six million people older than 65 in the United States currently have this form of dementia – also called sundowners syndrome.

More and more studies are being conducted on dementia and Alzheimer’s because of the increased number of people that will soon be reaching retirement age – all over the world. It has resulted in more knowledge about it, but more can still be learned. 

Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s

People with cardiovascular disease have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. They are also at a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke. 

Poor sleep patterns, such as in people who cannot stay asleep or those who cannot easily fall asleep, is another risk factor. During the day, a protein in the brain known as beta-amyloid accumulates. It is this substance that forms plaques that lead to the formation of Alzheimer’s. While you sleep, beta-amyloid is normally removed – if you get enough of it. 

Heart disease risk factors will also increase your risk of Alzheimer’s. They include being obese, living a sedentary life – little exercise, diabetes that is uncontrolled, having high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. 

Another risk factor is a low education level. It is usually one that is less than a high school education. People with a habit of lifelong learning are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Drinking alcohol excessively, air pollution, smoking, and head trauma are additional factors. A loss of hearing, depression that is untreated, or loneliness, are also factors. 

Another factor recently discovered is a lack of vitamin D. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease if you do not have enough vitamin D is more than 50 percent higher. The team that discovered this connection concluded that about 17 percent of the people with dementia could have prevented it if they had more vitamin D. 

The Lifespan of Someone with Alzheimer’s

After early signs of dementia begin to manifest themselves, people with Alzheimer’s wait about two more years before getting an official diagnosis.

Once given the diagnosis, the average lifespan is eight to ten years. Women tend to live about 18 months longer than men after the diagnosis. The older the person is at the time of diagnosis, the shorter the expected lifespan. 

Most often, Alzheimer’s leads to other conditions as the symptoms become worse and the person cannot take care of themselves. These can include pneumonia, malnutrition, flu, falls, infections, dehydration, and more. 

Tips for Delaying Alzheimer’s

There is no exact formula to eliminate the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s, but you can delay it. It includes some lifestyle changes – the same ones you would use to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. 

The changes include exercising about 150 minutes per week, stopping smoking, and reducing your alcohol intake. You also want to keep your mind active by taking more college courses and continuing to learn, playing chess, doing puzzles, etc.

Taking anti-oxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. The combination of these things will help decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, which will increase your longevity. 

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