Alzheimer’s is one of those diseases that people dread and panic and stress about as they start getting older. Countless seniors will forget their keys one day and tell you that they’re worried about having Alzheimer’s.
If you are nearly paranoid about getting Alzheimer’s (or about your parent – or another senior whom you hold dear – getting it), know that you are not alone. Because Alzheimer’s has no known cure or treatment and because medicos are still clueless about what causes it, anyone would dread having it. Moreover, it is a progressive degenerative disease that affects the brain impacting memory – most commonly – and also other functions.
While there’s no cure and no clear cut cause, there is some good news. Associations have been made between Alzheimer’s and certain lifestyle choices, health conditions and of course, diet. There is a clear correlation between a bunch of pre-existing factors and escalated chances of getting Alzheimer’s. It follows then that to reduce one’s chances, seniors should practice the opposite. On the bright side, it’s not very complex – avoiding Alzheimer’s seeks to be about simply avoiding ill-health in every way.
In any case, we’ve spelt it out. Here are:
7 ways to keep Alzheimer’s at bay.
1. Eat right
Are you a little frustrated about how every health article tells you that your diet must be right to maintain good health (like you didn’t know)? Well, it is rule number 1 of good health and you know: you are what you eat!
Here’s a quick, handy guide:
- Fruits and vegetables (whole. Not juiced)
- Protein that is lean
- Vegetarian protein
- Whole grain foods
- Low fat dairy
Don’ts/ avoid these
- Processed food
- Food with added sugar (that includes breakfast cereal)
- Salty foodstuffs
- Full fat dairy and fatty dairy
- High carb, low fibre foods
2. Physical Fitness
Looking to keep your brain fit means shaking things up in there (in the right way) and that means that you need to pump blood into your brain. A sure shot way to do this is by exercising.
You need not do anything strenuous, unless you want to. Simply aim to walk for 30 minutes and for 5 days in the week. If for some reason, your mobility is affected, at least do some stretching and bending, arm rotations, leg lifts and the like.
Mix it up to avoid boredom. Choose different routes, parks, workout types and companions.
Given the times we live in, it is important to state that if you are stuck at home, you can always copy some video dance workout from YouTube that is suitable for your age and fitness levels. Ask your kids or grandkids for help finding the right one.
3. Weight management
If you are eating right and exercising, you should ideally also be able to manage your weight. If you are still overweight, see a professional and do what it takes to ensure that you have a healthy weight.
Studies have linked obesity and Alzheimer’s. Even if obesity runs in your genes or if you have recently had a surgery that affected your mobility, go the extra mile (perhaps literally) to keep your weight in check if you want to steer clear of the far bigger issues that come with Alzheimer’s.
4. Regular health checkups
As if heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol were not bad enough by themselves, they have also been linked to Alzheimer’s.
Get an annual checkup and strive to keep these vital statistics in check, to keep Alzheimer’s at bay. If you have been paying heed to the first 3 items on this list, you should typically sidestep heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. However, other factors like stress and genes have a role to play. Be on the safe side and opt for regular testing.
If you do find yourself suffering from any of these make the requisite lifestyle changes and take the recommended medication, to keep them in control.
5. Mental fitness
Given that Alzheimer’s degenerates brain cells and their connections, it would make sense that to keep it away, it is essential to keep these cells alive and keep the connections active (and possibly buzzing, growing). The best way to achieve this is to keep challenging yourself mentally. There’s countless things you could try but here are a few:
- Crossword puzzles
- Actual puzzles
- Card games
- Art of any sort, even culinary
- Learning-oriented viewing and entertainment
- Help kids with homework or project work
- Tutor or volunteer to help needy children with their studies
Avoid being like a millennial and spending time scrolling mindlessly through your whatsapp and social media as this interferes with your ability to focus.
6. It’s all in the head
Alzheimer’s is a brain-impacting disease and therefore, if you are looking to avoid it, it is obvious that you need to protect your head. Of course, everyone needs to protect their head in general, but more so as you age and bones (and correspondingly the skull bones) become more brittle.
Be extra careful when riding, driving and crossing the street. Always use a helmet even if you are riding pillion; always wear a seat belt and choose other alternatives to busy intersections. If you are retired, plan your day such that you avoid rush hour.
7. Kick that butt
Smoking causes a whole lot of complications that can be linked to Alzheimer’s. This means that you need to avoid tobacco in all its forms, including cigars, pipes, nicotine patches and e-cigarettes. Those handmade cigarettes that your cool nephew in America smokes are no good either. You have to avoid all forms of tobacco.
Second-hand smoke is no good either.
Overall good health can help keep Alzheimer’s at bay and why not practice a healthy lifestyle, especially as you age. Self care and a healthy lifestyle is always a good strategy. As for the mental stimulation activities, well there are probably kids in the family who will be glad for the company.