November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Month, which brings information and resources to the forefront for those who live with or who care for loved ones with the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects memory and other cognitive functions. It affects more than 5 million elderly people each year, and it is estimated that more than 15 million caregivers devote their time and efforts toward home care for them.
Part of National Alzheimer’s Disease Month is to spread knowledge and awareness of the different aspects of the disease, from early symptoms and recent treatment breakthroughs to the latest support networks and community services for caregivers and the elderly. Because the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood and there is no cure to date, there is also a lot of focus on medical research, fundraising and data gathering.
Focusing on Risk
One popular topic is that of exploring prevention, or what activities and behaviors increase or lower the risk of an elderly person in getting Alzheimer’s disease. Because the cause of the disease has not yet been determined, a lot of research has gone into looking for evidence for what might prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Medical researchers have found that there appears to be a genetic component as the condition often runs in families. They have also noticed an increased risk in those with a history of head injuries and hypertension.
Studies dedicated to measuring lifestyles and their effects on whether or not an elderly person develops Alzheimer’s disease seem to link some activities and habits but the results are not conclusive. There has been some promising research done that links a lifetime of intellectual activities like reading, puzzles, playing an instrument and an active social life to a reduced risk for the disease. Similarly, people that have cardiovascular conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and issues associated with smoking may have a higher risk of developing the disease.
Is diet a factor?
Other areas that researchers are looking at are diet, physical activity, vitamins and mineral use, and alcohol consumption. A healthy diet that avoids food that spikes the blood sugar, like sugar and refined carbs, can reduce the risk of all kinds of brain disorders and metabolic problems in old age. Regular physical activity, which includes a mix of strength training and cardio exercise, has been linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Some supplements may also help, such as folic acid, fish oil, vitamin B12, and magnesium. Consuming red wine may also help, but too much alcohol can damage the brain and possibly raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
How can you help?
Family caregivers and elderly adults that are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease are an important resource for the ongoing awareness campaigns nationally and on a local level. As the people on the front lines in dealing with every aspect of the disease, from home care to the latest treatments, the information and support every year becomes invaluable. If more information emerges from medical studies that are looking at Alzheimer’s disease prevention, it will be welcome news, indeed.
If you or an aging loved one is considering hiring home care services in Falls Church, VA, contact the caring staff at Access Home Care Inc. Proudly Serving Northern Virginia and Surroundings for over 12 years. Call Us: (703) 765-9350