Alzheimer's Disease prevention is possible. As things stand at the moment there is no cure for Alzheimer's and dementia. There are however several clinically proven lifestyle changes that have shown that Alzheimers Disease can be prevented or, at the very least, warded off.
Scientists at Harvard have an ongoing study with an elite group of retired people they are calling "Super Agers" These people have brains that resemble those of people a third their age, which could provide vital clues about how to prevent declines in memory. Its all about brain stimulation. One powerful simulator is regular socializing. Isolation is bad.
“In the next 10 years we’re going to get more and more evidence about the things people can do to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia,” says Craig Richie, professor of the psychiatry of ageing at the University of Edinburgh who is leading yet another trial.
“Our aim is to be able to take any given individual and say, 'Well your risk is X per cent and here are the things you can personally do to help prevent it.’ ”
Learn a new skill.
Brain stimulation, not brain training, is essential in preventing cognitive decline, says Prof. Ritchie. The key to the former is social interaction, he says.
“Chatting, being socially interactive with friends and in a work environment is probably what lights up your brain more than anything else. I often get asked, 'I do lots of crosswords and Sudoku, will that protect me from dementia?’”
But the evidence now suggests that taking up new hobbies and interests that challenge you are more beneficial. “So, if you’ve done crosswords your whole life, learning to play the piano at 65 is going to have more benefit on your cognitive health than keeping doing things you have always done.”
Build your cognitive reserve
Protecting the brain against dementia is all about building cognitive reserve – the connections within the brain network.
As we age, the brain shrinks and these connections weaken but the bigger your cognitive reserve is, the longer you’ll last before suffering memory problems. Stimulating the brain with certain behavior helps to maintain cognitive reserve.
“Someone with high cognitive reserve would be someone with a mixture of high education, a complex lifetime occupation and high levels of social engagement in old age,” says Carol Brayne professor of public health medicine at Cambridge University.
The more of these factors you have, she says, the more protected you may be – if you develop a bit of cognitive impairment, it will take longer for it to turn into dementia.
In July this year, occupational scientists at the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in Wisconsin graded jobs according to how much intellectual engagement they provide. They found those less associated with the development of Alzheimer’s in later life were those that worked in complex jobs involving other people.
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[caption id="attachment_8946" align="alignnone" width="300"] Being able to diagnose Alzheimer's before the onset of symptoms would be a major boost[/caption]