At American House, taking care of our residents is our No. 1 priority — and this includes providing the latest research on topics like Alzheimer’s disease when it becomes available. According to J. Carper at Senior Psychcare, new research into Alzheimer’s indicates that the disease develops over many years and is often influenced by lifestyle factors — and therefore there are things people can do to possibly delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Here are 8 things you can do now to cut your risk of Alzheimer’s:
1. Drink a cup of coffee
Coffee and caffeine may actually be good for the brain. Carper mentions a European study noting that those who drank 3-5 cups of coffee each day had a 65%-less risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Plus, other prominent researchers note that caffeine reduces dementia and many have shown the benefits of antioxidants in coffee.
As always, please discuss any dietary changes with your doctor — even an increase in caffeine — as there are other health factors that need to be taken into consideration when altering your diet.
2. Floss your teeth daily
Many people may not realize the connection between oral health and overall health. There may even be a connection between dental hygiene and your brain’s function: Carper lists studies that found those who had periodontal disease by the time they were 35 QUADRUPLED their odds of having dementia. In addition, other studies found that those with gum disease scored lower on memory tests. Why? It is assumed that inflammation in the mouth can travel to the brain.
Keep having those regular dental check-ups and treat any oral issues for better overall health.
3. Google and play online
Gary Small of UCLA used MRIs to track brain stimulation on participants who did online searches and found that doing so increased activity even more than reading a book, according to Carper. Jumping around on a Web site and engages the brain more than reading, so jump online for an hour or so and find something new to learn!
And while you’re at it, try to Skype with friends and relatives!
4. Keep growing new brain cells
How do you grow new brain cells? In many ways! Exercise helps — even going for a brisk walk every morning or trying some yoga poses in the afternoon. Stimulate your brain by doing crossword puzzles, Sudoku or other brain teasers. In addition, incorporating some brain-friendly foods into your diet, like salmon can help, as can working toward overall good health practices (like getting enough sleep).
As with any alteration to your exercise routine or diet, please consult your doctor before making any changes.
5. Drink some apple juice
An apple a day keeps the Alzheimer’s away! According to Carper, apple juice can increase production of the “memory chemical” acetylcholine. University of Massachusetts’ Thomas Shea, Ph. D., says this is how Aricept, the common Alzheimer’s medication, works. So, pour a glass of apple juice with breakfast and snack on an apple or two throughout the day!
Consult your doctor with any dietary changes, even just an increase in the amount of apples or apple juice you consume.
6. Cover your head
Professional football players — who notoriously receive numerous blows to the head throughout their careers — have 19 times the normal rate of memory-related diseases, Carper states. Researchers are now finding that any type of blow to the head throughout life increases the odds of dementia down the road. Wear a helmet when biking and protect that head!
7. Clear your thoughts
Mediation offers several benefits and brain health is one of them. Those who meditate regularly have less cognitive decline, Carper found. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine says yoga meditation for 12 minutes a day for two months improved blood flow and cognitive functioning in seniors with memory problems. And the good news is that anyone can meditate!
One of the most common nutrients adults lack is Vitamin D — which also comes from the sun. Deficiencies increase risk of cognitive impairment, Carper notes, by nearly 400%! Get some sun for several minutes every day and look for ways to increase your intake of vitamin D through food sources or supplements.
Talk to your doctor before beginning a new vitamin regimen or changing your diet.