Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are brain diseases seen mostly in older age, and are conditions that most people dread. Losing control of one's body is bad enough but losing one's mind is almost too much to bear.
Not recognizing friends and close family, not being able to cook, dress or toilet independently, and losing precious memories, can be traumatic for both patient and family.
The best we can hope for is tender, loving care from family and caregivers, and stimulation of the mind and body so that the symptoms of Alzheimer's/dementia can be delayed as long as possible.
A study cited in Medical News Today said that there are five main ways to delay the onset or lessen the risk of getting this very sad disease affecting people from all educational, career and class backgrounds.
These ways are:
- Being smoke-free
- Having a healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Keeping alcohol levels in check
"The study shows that the individuals who adhered to four or five of these behaviors had a 60% decline in dementia and cognitive decline, and there were 70% fewer cases of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, compared with individuals who followed none of the behaviors." 1
What was of great note in this 35 year study (headed up by Professor Peter Elwood at Cardiff University's School of Medicine), was that exercise proved to be the most mitigating factor in keeping Alzheimer's at bay. And exercise is something we can do at any age, as long as we modify it for our ability and health.
Activities one can do at any age are tennis, swimming and walking.
Swimming is great for our health and is a low (almost no) impact activity that works out the whole body.
Tennis is more of a high impact sport but playing at one's level with others of the same level can make two hours of activity go by without even knowing it, and it is also very mentally stimulating.
Walking and using weights are also great for muscles, bones, hearts and lungs. The positive impact of exercise on mental health is incalculable.
The Alzheimer's Association tells us that "...