4) Manage medical risk factors aggressively.
Several common disorders increase our risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and should be managed aggressively. For instance, diabetes heart disease and hypertension all increase the risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. The increase risk for Alzheimer’s Disease seems to be independent of the risk these illnesses confer for stroke which can also cause dementia. It’s very important therefore to work with your physicians to control blood sugar levels, medically manage arrhythmias and other cardiac disease and maintain blood pressure within normal range. Finally, being overweight does not help any of these conditions so a weight loss program combined with the dietary guidelines above should be considered.
5) Sleep well.
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We are all aware that sleep deprivation can impact our mental functioning. A bad night’s sleep leads to errors of judgement usually because our attention is easily broken the next day. There are many benefits associated with an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Studies show for instance, that if we learn a new task early in the day and are tested on it later in the day we don’t do as well as if we learn it late in the day and are tested the next morning. This suggests that the old saying “let me sleep on it” when referring to a problem has scientific merit. We know that during sleep the brain organizes information that has been gathered during the day and consolidates memory for some of that information while discarding other irrelevant information. Thus sleep not only has beneficial functions for learning and memory, but without it we are unable to focus on the task at hand and are therefore unable to learn new information as well. If you have poor sleep patterns or frequently have interrupted sleep, seeking medical advice and receiving an evaluation in a sleep clinic is advisable.
More publications by Dr Michael Mullan
by Michael Mullan
We are all likely to be touched by someone with Alzheimer’s Disease sometime in our lives and as we age we are at risk ourselves. Currently, medical research has a way to go before treatments are available which can prevent or cure the disease. So why we await such treatments is there anything we can do to reduce our risk for developing this feared disease? The answer is most definitely yes! The benefits of changes in lifestyle and medical care can be dramatic in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease in related dementias. Here are ten simple tips derived from the extensive medical literature on the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease which can be included in almost any lifestyle to significantly reduce your or your loved ones’ risk for the disease.
1) Stay physically active.
Excellent scientific evidence suggests that we can reduce our risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease by increasing our daily activity. There is a direct relationship between the amount of exercise or physical activity we engage in and protection against Alzheimer’s Disease.
We do not have an exact formula for how much activity is required to reduce our risk by a given amount but in general longer and more strenuous activity confers more protection. However, we have to balance the benefits of exercise with the potential drawbacks such as the aggravation of pre-existing conditions like arthritis and heart disease. As with all new exercise routines a thorough medical examine is prudent. Also, any routine should be realistic and within the capabilities of the individual. It’s much better to have a moderate routine that is followed for months and years rather then a too strenuous one that is abandoned after a week. Finally, it’s worth remembering that simple exercises like walking and swimming can provide great protective benefit and require little preparation or equipment.
2) Eat Well.
A mounting body of evidence points to diet as a key variable contributing to our risk for, or prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease. In particular it’s becoming clear that diets which resemble the so called Mediterranean diet lower our risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. The Mediterranean diet consists of: high amounts of vegetables, fruit, legumes and cereals; low intake of saturated fats and relatively high intake of olive oil as the main source of unsaturated fat; moderate fish intake, low to moderate intake of dairy produce, and low consumption of meat; and, finally a low to moderate consumption of wine usually taken with meals. You may recognize this diet as being associated with other health benefits such as reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. In addition to these benefits, this diet has been associated with significantly lower rates of cognitive decline and dementia.