It is the best of times and it is the worst of times when it comes to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Recently, there has been some encouraging news.
A vaccine is in its early stages that might someday help prevent it.
But research takes time, and it’s been determined that more and more people are developing the disease at a younger age.
KX News sat down with the Program Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association to discuss what’s happening now.
Nikki Wegner calls it’s the most feared disease.
“We really need to start talking about it,” says Nikki Wener, Program Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association.
There’s still no cure for Alzheimer’s and so many unknowns.
“Across the US there are 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. 14 thousand of them are seniors living in ND and if we were to add younger-onset Alzheimer’s to that it would be even higher,” says Wegner.
But, she says there have been some promising new developments.
For instance, the sprint mind study came out last year.
It found that if we can keep our systolic blood pressure to 120 or lower, we’re reducing our risk of developing any kind of cognitive impairment.
“Yah you know use it or lose it.”
The research is still evolving, but there is strong evidence that people can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by making simple lifestyle changes.
“By diet and nutrition, physical activity and exercise, social engagement and cognitive stimulation,” says Wegner.
She says for the first time, the US Pointers Institute that will study in depth and with a large sample population the effects of all these lifestyle changes combined.
In the meantime, making changes now certainly can’t hurt.
“It’s never too late to start and its never too early either, so if you haven’t started yet, do it now,” Wegner says.
10 Ways to Love Your Brain
- Break a sweat –- physical activity can reduce cognitive decline
- Hit the books –- education can reduce cognitive decline and dementia
- Butt out –- smoking increases the risk of cognitive decline, quitting can drastically reduce risk
- Follow your heart — risk factors for cardiovascular disease can negatively impact cognitive health
- Heads up — brain injury can raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia (wear your seatbelt and bike helmet!)
- Fuel up right –- balanced diet lower in fat and higher in fruits/vegetables may reduce risk
- Catch some ZZZs – poor sleep can lead to memory issues
- Take care of your mental health – some studies link depression with increased risk in cognitive decline
- Stump yourself – challenge your mind, it may have short and long term benefits on your brain
- Buddy up – staying socially engaged may support brain health
It may be hard to know the difference between age-related changes and the first signs of Alzheimer’s. Some people may recognize changes in themselves before anyone else notices. Other times, friends and family will be the first to observe changes in memory, behavior or abilities. To help identify problems early, the Alzheimer’s Association has created a list of warning signs for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Individuals may experience one or more of these in different degrees:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Confusion with time or place.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
- Decreased or poor judgment.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood and personality.
**Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900
Tomorrow, the first day of summer represents something special for the Alzheimer’s Association.
It’s the longest day of the year, and the longest day for a caregiver of patients.
It’s also a day to remember lives lost.
And, it’s the biggest fundraising day of the year.
So June 21st you can participate by attending any of the following events (click the link to view and download a list of classes and events):