Want Your Elderly Loved One Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease? Ensuring a Healthy Lifestyle Might Help.
Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating diagnosis, for victims and families alike. Although scientists around the world are working feverishly, a cure is likely years – if not decades – away. However, two recent studies suggest there is hope for preventing Alzheimer’s disease, provided seniors maintain a healthy lifestyle as they age.
Five Health Habits Vital to Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
Both studies were presented last month, during the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The first, conducted by researchers at Chicago’s Rush University and the University of California Davis, suggested five healthy habits are instrumental to Alzheimer’s
Disease and dementia prevention:
- Not smoking
- Exercising at a moderate to vigorous level for at least 150 minutes a week
- Consuming a brain supporting diet
- Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption
- Engaging in late-life cognitive activities
The key is engaging in as many of these healthy living behaviors as possible.
A Healthy Lifestyle May Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk by as Much as 60%
The authors tracked 1,845 participants enrolled in the Chicago Health and Aging Project and 920 from the Rush Memory and Aging Project for approximately six years. While none had dementia when the study began, 608 were suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia by the end of follow-up.
Participants who practiced two or three healthy behaviors had a 37% lower risk of Alzheimer’s compared to those who engaged in one or none. Those who were able to maintain the healthiest lifestyles – regularly practicing 4 or 5 healthy habits – saw their risk drop by 60%!
Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle Extended to Those with Higher Genetic Risk
The second study was similar but utilized the UK Biobank to identify 196,383 adults at least 60 years old with no prior history of dementia. Each participant was then assigned a “dementia score” that took into account genes associated with an increased risk, as well as a “lifestyle score” that was higher based on how many of the healthy behaviors they reported.
After a six-year follow-up, 668 participants had developed dementia. As expected, the risk was highest among those genetically predisposed to cognitive decline. However, even these individuals were able to cut their risk of dementia in half by following a healthy lifestyle.
Many Seniors Have Difficulty Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
So, it would seem that seniors who regularly engage in healthy behaviors are better positioned to stave off Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Unfortunately, many older people experience difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially if they live alone. Mobility issues and fear of falling can prevent the elderly from engaging in regular exercise, while others develop poor eating habits due to a decreased sense of smell or taste, dental problems, or transportation issues that hinder their ability to shop for groceries. A lack of reliable transportation can also leave seniors socially isolated and significantly reduce their opportunities to engage in cognitively beneficial activities.
If your elderly loved one lives alone, it’s important to encourage healthy habits and facilitate those behaviors whenever possible. Of course, this is often easier said than done, especially if you work full time, have your own family to care for or live a great distance away.
FCP Live-In: Health Lifestyle Programs for Seniors
At FCP-Live In, we make healthy habits a priority.
When you can’t be there, our highly-trained, experienced, and compassionate caregivers will provide all of the non-medical support and one-on-one assistance your loved one requires to maintain a healthy lifestyle in the comfort and familiarity of home:
- Planning and preparing nutritiously-sound meals.
- Assistance with shopping.
- Encouraging exercise, according to doctors’ instructions.
- Escorts to medical appointments and social engagement.
- The opportunity to engage in cognitively beneficial activities through FCP Live-In’s “Living Well” program.
- Alert you to any changes in behavior or attitude that could be a sign of depression or cognitive decline.
If you’d like to learn more about FCP Live-In’s healthy lifestyle programs for seniors, please give us a call today at 123-456-7890.