Doing Life Together

ID-10047219I remember when my grandmother began to have memory loss in her early 80s. It was hard to watch because she knew she was losing it. Eventually, Alzheimer’s took its hold on her mind and she ended up in a nursing home not knowing who we were.

If you, like me, have a family member who suffers with Alzheimer’s, or know one of the 5.2. million people who have Alzheimer’s this year, you may be wondering where we are on prevention. The expectation is that the number of people with this disease will triple by the year 2050.

Right now, there is no cure or even a sound prevention program to ward off the symptoms. But we do have some promising lifestyle changes that may make a difference. Again, these behaviors are not a given for prevention. But here are a few areas being researched with promise. The Mayo Clinic is working on a long-term study designed to look at risks of getting the disease.

Some of the lifestyle changes people are making if they are risk include:

1) Playing a musical instrument. We aren’t sure why but this seems to delay the onset of cognitive and auditory decline. So if you play an instrument, keep playing. If not, consider learning one.

2) Eating and drinking: Drink coffee, eat berries and moderately consume alcohol. There is some evidence that these actions may protect against cognitive decline.

3) Other diet considerations include avoiding copper (liver, clams, oysters for example) and reducing saturated fat in your diet while increasing learn protein.

4) Exercise just seems to help everything including cognitive abilities.

The idea here is that lifestyle modifications may have an impact on our cognitive aging. Hey, it’s worth a try as these changes are good for us anyway!

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