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Alzheimer’s Disease: What You Need to Know
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias affect nearly 50 million people worldwide but are most common in seniors. These irreversible, progressive brain disorders slowly destroy memory and thinking skills. Eventually, the ability to carry out simple tasks becomes nearly impossible.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss is mild. In late-stage Alzheimer’s disease, those affected lose their ability to have conversations and respond to their environment.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but certain treatments can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms. These treatments cannot stop the progression of Alzheimer’s, but they can improve the senior and their caregivers’ quality of life.
Researchers worldwide are working toward finding better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing. While many seniors are impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, it’s important to know it is NOT a normal part of aging.
What Are My Risks of Alzheimer’s?
Researchers haven’t identified one specific cause of Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are multiple risk factors that have been linked to the disease and are believed to influence its development. These include:
- Age (being 65 and older)
- Sex and gender (women are more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s disease)
- Family history of the disease
- Genetics or heredity
- Head injuries
- Poor cognitive health
- Age-related changes in the brain like inflammation or vascular conditions including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure
- Smoking and alcohol use
- High cholesterol
- Obesity and lack of physical activity
- Social isolation or loneliness
- Untreated depression
- Hearing loss
What Are Treatments for Alzheimer’s?
While medical intervention can improve the quality of life or slow its progression of those living with Alzheimer’s disease, there is no cure. Medical treatment options may include:
- Helping to maintain mental function
- Managing behavioral symptoms like anxiety, paranoia, and aggression
- Slowing or delaying the symptoms of the disease
- Certain medications for memory loss
- Help with sleep changes
How Can I Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
Research is still out on what you can do now to prevent the disease. But, healthy lifestyle choices like physical activity and diet can help to support brain health. Many of these changes are also linked to other conditions associated with Alzheimer’s disease, like heart disease and diabetes. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your health and reduce your risk of developing these conditions:
- Stop smoking
- Limit alcohol intake
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet including fresh fruits and vegetables daily
- Exercise for at least 150 minutes each week
- Keep up with regular health tests, especially blood pressure
- If you have diabetes, keep to your recommended diet and medications
- Stay mentally active with brain exercises and social activity
If you or your loved one may be experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, contact your doctor immediately. The Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine is another excellent option. The Center offers comprehensive evaluation and innovative treatments for all conditions affecting cognition and memory. You can learn more about the Center here.