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Posts for tag: dementia

By Dr. Doug Williams
May 10, 2016
Category: Healthy Aging

Researchers across the globe have discovered that it may be possible to prevent or delay the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia through a combination of healthy habits.

At the American Psychiatric Associations 2013 Annual Meeting, Dr. Gary Small, renowned Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, gave essentially a State of the Union Address on Alzheimer's disease (AD). You can review that here.

Dr. Small notes that research suggests genetics account for only one-third of AD cases, while the remaining two-thirds are dependent on non-genetic factors. He outlined the following non-genetic lifestyle risk factors:

  1. Physical Conditioning
  2. Mental Stimulation
  3. Stress Management
  4. Nutrition (specifically an anti-inflammatory diet)

Physical conditioning has the strongest link with reduced risk for AD. Research shows exercising can lower bio-markers (lab work) associated with an increased risk of developing AD. People who walk regularly, even for as little as 15 minutes a day, can reduce their risk for AD.

Mental stimulation is essentially exercise for the brain. When reviewing mental stimulation, Dr. Small presented interesting research, demonstrating how learning new technology (phones, computers, etc.) increased in brain activity, thus lowering the risk for AD.

Stress management includes habitual practices, such as meditation, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and social interaction, among others.

Nutrition is linked as one of the biggest risk factors for AD, specifically an inflammatory-inducing diet. Dr. Small cited the Mediterranean diet (high in Omega 3 fatty acids/fish oil and fresh fruits and vegetables) as a particularly beneficial diet for reducing the risk of developing AD. You can review some background on anti-inflammatory diets here and here on our blog.

Many other types of dementia (including Mild Cognitive Impairment) have also been associated with the same four risk factors as the ones listed above for AD. All of these types of dementia, at least in part, can be impacted by lifestyle choices! Remember, it is never too early OR too late to make changes to achieve a healthier lifestyle.



COME TO OUR CLASS ON DEMENTIA RELATED STRATEGIES

If you, or someone you know, is concerned about Alzheimer's or other types of dementia, come to our class on Dementia Related Strategies on Tuesday, May 17th at 6:30pm in our office (134 Executive Drive #3, Lafayette). We will be discussing more in-depth about Alzheimer's and MCI, and giving some practical recommendations for you to take home.

The class is free, but registration is necessary.
Call us at 765-448-6489 to reserve a spot!

Alzheimer's Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment are two types of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. In addition, they have been associated with increases in depression, irritability, anxiety, apathy and aggression. According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, accounting tor 60-80% of dementia cases. However, given the variety and different sub-groups of dementia and the way population estimates are determined, this may be difficult to determine. Regardless of the type of dementia, dementia can have a huge impact on both the patient and family members.

An Overview of Alzheimer's Disease


Tiny changes in the brain occur long before the first signs of memory loss. With 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) that connect and communicate with other cells, it's no wonder these cells require coordination to keep everything running smoothly, as well as large amounts of fuel and oxygen.

Memories and thoughts move through individual neurons as a small electrical charge. Neurons connect with one another via synapses. When a charge reaches a synapse, it may trigger the release of tiny bursts of chemicals called neurotransmitters that carry signals to other cells. Neurons are the main type of cell destroyed by Alzheimer's disease, which disrupts the way these electrical charges travel and the activity of neurotransmitters.

Over time, Alzheimer's disease leads to nerve cell death and loss of brain tissue. As a result, the brain shrinks dramatically, which affects nearly all of its functions (ie, thinking, planning, remembering, forming new memories, etc.)
 
 
 
An Overview of Mild Cognitive Impairment
 
According to the Mayo Clinic, Mild Cognitive Impairment (or MCI) is defined as "an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes." While people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) may be at greater risk for developing Alzheimer's disease later on, some people never get worse and some people improve.

Patients with MCI may show some of the physical brain changes as Alzheimer's, but often to a lesser degree.
 
Risk Factors Associated With Alzheimer's and MCI

Currently, there is a tremendous amount of research time and money being spent on the causes and treatment of both Alzheimer's and MCI. While the amount of information pertaining to these two diseases is growing, the direct mechanism and, therefore, specific treatment is still lacking. What is known however are some of the environmental risk factors that may be associated, which are often under one's control. These risk factors may include:
  • Diabetes
  • Current smoking
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Infrequent participation in mentally or socially stimulating activities

Minimizing these risk factors has the potential of impacting both the expression (possibility of developing a condition), severity (how intensely it presents) and, in some cases, progression (potential to develop into a more severe stage).

Next week's article will explore what you can personally do to help reduce and minimize both the risk factors and possibly expression of these two disease states.



COME TO OUR CLASS ON DEMENTIA RELATED STRATEGIES


If you, or someone you know, is concerned about Alzheimer's or other types of dementia, come to our class on Dementia Related Strategies on Tuesday, May 17th at 6:30pm in our office (134 Executive Drive #3, Lafayette). We will be discussing more in-depth about Alzheimer's and MCI, and giving some practical recommendations for you to take home.

The class is free, but registration is necessary.
Call us at 765-448-6489 to reserve a spot!