Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that causes gradual loss of a person’s mental abilities. It initially affects the cerebral cortex and often starts off as simple forgetfulness.
As the disease progresses, the person’s personality may undergo a complete transformation for the worse. The ability to think and function normally may be almost fully lost.
Is there a way to reduce one’s chances of getting the disease? There are no definite answers, partly because the disease itself is not fully understood yet.
It is thought that maintaining a healthy lifestyle with lots of mental activity may help prevent Alzheimer’s. There are no absolute safeguards against it, though.
Here are some steps you can take to minimize your chances of falling prey to this disease.
* Remain mentally active.
Mental activity stimulates the brain neurons. The more you use your brain, the more it creates new neurological pathways and connections. In this respect, the brain is quite like the rest of the body, because if you use it, it tends to remain healthy. And if you don’t, the brain deteriorates.
Do crossword puzzles and word games. Take up public speaking or debating. Learn to play a musical instrument. Learn about art forms you were not familiar with before and attend cultural and other functions.
Anything that engages your brain and keeps you alert and active may help.
* Get regular physical exercise.
The benefits of moderate physical exercise are well documented. Exercise results in increased oxygen flow to the brain and releases chemicals that make you feel good.
Plus, of course, exercise boosts your physical stamina and fitness levels. It helps reduce your weight, lowers your blood pressure and many other positive effects.
Go with any exercise that suits you, after taking your doctor’s advice. Choices include aerobics, gym workouts, tai chi, stretch exercises, yoga and more.
* Eat healthy food.
Your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease are lower if you cut down on cholesterol and fat in your diet. That means, avoid junk food and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The latter helps build up your brain cells. Besides, fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which are supposed to be good for the whole body.
Foods like leafy vegetables, fish and nuts may be excellent. Consult a doctor or nutritionist and come up with a diet that suits you.
* Cultivate excellent family and social relationships
Having great relationships dramatically improves your experience of life. And there are many studies that show that longevity is linked to having good social relationships.
Involve yourself in hobby groups. Join a neighborhood walking club or canasta group. Go to block parties. Get active in community organizations. Go on weekend trips with friends. There are many ways to stay involved socially.
In the end, leading a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle will contribute immensely to your quality of life. And it can help slow or perhaps even halt the progress of Alzheimer’s disease in people who are predisposed to it.