Unfortunately, Alzheimer's is more prevalent today than ever before. Perhaps this is because life expectancy is longer than ever before as well. Early research seemed to indicate that this debilitating mental disease was passed on primarily through genetic lines. But according to Paul Thompson, professor of neurology at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Medicine, new research suggests that genetics is a powerful factor, but not the dominant force. In fact, there are many activities that seem to reduce one's susceptibility to Alzheimer's and other similar diseases. Here are 6 activities that increase the health of your brain which reduces the onset in symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease:
- Physical Activity. The Alzheimer's Association advises people to pick physical activities they enjoy and do 30 minutes of regular exercise daily. According to a University of Illinois study, aerobic activities (like running, walking, stair-stepping, etc) have a greater benefit than non-aerobic, physical activities (golfing, tennis, weight lifting, etc). But something is better than nothing!
- Weight Control. There seems to be a direct connection between weight and susceptibility to Alzheimer's (the heavier, the greater chance of Alzheimer's). In fact, obese individuals have a 2-3 times greater chance of developing Alzheimer's. Paul Thompson explains his theory: fat gets deposited in the brain and narrows blood vessels. This reduces the blood the brain cells receive which eventually causes the cells to die.
- Mental Challenges. Puzzles, word games, and other activities that require the mind to exercise stimulate the brain. While mental stimulation does not prevent Alzheimer's, the studies suggest that the disease appears later in the lives of individuals with more formal education. Keeping your mind active increases mental health.
- Social Connections. Research has shown that p eople with larger social networks are affected less cognitively than those who are more isolated. Again, the theory is that these new social connections stimulate the brain which slows the development of the disease.
- Health Diet. There is no recipe for prevention, but research in the Archives of Neurology suggest that the Mediterranean diet appears to offer some protection against Alzheimer's. Some animal research has shown that the ingredients in curry also have a beneficial effect against Alzheimer's.
- Chronic Disease Control. High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol increases the chance of developing Alzheimer's, particularly when struggling with these chronic diseases later in life. Other evidence suggests that type 2 diabetes and heart disease also affect the brain and the development and/or severity of Alzheimer's.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer's at this point, by understanding more about Alzheimer's, we can slow the development. If you or a loved one are suffering from Alzheimer's, it is important to be proactive about the medical and legal planning. You should consider a consultation with an estate planning lawyer to discuss the legal options before it becomes too late.