Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease. It is often invisible: the patient suffering from it may seem forgetful at times but otherwise healthy and functioning. That is why, in many patients, a diagnosis comes a little too late. Family members only start to worry when the disease has already progressed, severely affecting their behavior and movements.
According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, about 5.5 million Americans aged 65 and up are living with Alzheimer’s. The number is only expected to increase in the coming years.
Until now, there is still no known cure for Alzheimer’s. If your loved one is diagnosed with the disease, their condition will only deteriorate over time. However, there are ways to delay its onset.
When to Consider Getting Professional Help
Older adults want to live independently as long as possible. However, being alone poses a hazard to their well-being if they have been diagnoses with Alzheimer’s. They may not remember to take their medication on time or fail to make a healthy meal on time. They may hurt themselves unintentionally or suffer an injury from a fall.
At some point, they would need help to accomplish even the simplest of tasks, but they would not acknowledge their weakness. Families should consider getting a home healthcare aide to look after patients who live alone.
These professionals are highly-skilled and trained to provide care to old and ill persons. They can monitor the overall health of their patients, check blood pressure and temperature, assist in treatments, observe diet and exercise, and coordinate with doctors and other medical practitioners.
Having another person look after your loved ones when you cannot be present 24/7 will ensure that they are safe, healthy, and getting the attention they need.
The Power of Exercise
Public health experts have been saying over and over again that having regular physical activities can decrease a person’s risk of developing serious illnesses. Older adults, who have Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias may also benefit from incorporating exercise into their daily routines.
The Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation said that working out can reduce the chances of a patient developing Alzheimer’s by up to 50%. It would also slow cognitive deterioration among those who have already been diagnosed with the disease.
Exercise, specifically weight and resistance training, boosts brain health. It also sharpens learning and reasoning, improves memory and judgment, and counter the reduction of brain connections due to aging.
An adult doing about 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity several times a week will reap these benefits and may slow the progress of Alzheimer’s.
What a Mediterranean Diet Can Do
A person’s diet can also have an effect on their risk of developing and slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s. Studies have already shown switching to the Mediterranean Diet has the capacity to slow the progression of the disease. One study said that it can delay decline for as much as three years.
The Mediterranean Diet is one of the healthiest in the world. People who follow it eats more vegetables and fruits, fish, and healthy oils. The consumption of red meat, processed food, and refined sugars is limited.
The Mediterranean Diet ideal for patients with Alzheimer’s because it encourages a high intake of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants protect the brain from oxidative damage which can lead to cognitive decline. The diet is also associated with lower levels of cholesterol, preventing problems with memory and thinking.
Sleep: Cure to Many Illnesses
Sleep has restorative and healing effects on the human body. That is why it is important to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night.
Previous studies have linked sleep deprivation to Alzheimer’s. When a person does not get enough quality sleep, amyloid plaques, a type of protein in the brain, builds up.
A plaque build-up is one of the precursors of Alzheimer’s. The presence of plaque buildup in the brain affects memory formation (and may also inhibit sleep).
Sleep has the capacity to flush amyloid buildup from the brain. In mice models, scientists reported that those that slept well had far fewer plaques compared to those that slept poorly.
Two is Better than One
Learning a new language may also delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Some studies have linked being bilingual or multilingual to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s.
It works because learning a new language stimulates the brain. More research is needed to see how and why learning a new language affects the brain and one’s likelihood of experiencing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. However, learning something new has always been associated with sharper cognitive abilities and improved memory.
These alone would not delay Alzheimer’s. Patients should seek professional medical advice to receive the appropriate treatment.
Alzheimer’s is a serious disease and it can be devastating, but making healthy lifestyle changes may give your loved one a longer, happier life after diagnosis.