Can You Prevent Alzheimer’s/Dementia?
Many families caring for an older family member often wonder, can you prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s? While there is currently no cure for these conditions, research suggests that there may be ways to reduce the risk of developing them.
In this blog post, we will explore the current understanding of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and discuss potential preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing these conditions. We will also examine how these conditions can be managed through in-home care.
Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can be caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. While the exact cause of these conditions is not fully understood, researchers have identified several risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing them:
- Lifestyle factors
- Brain, heart, and/or blood vessel damage
It’s important to note that having one or more of these risk factors does not necessarily mean that a person will develop Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to reduce them where possible. Let’s break down each of these risk factors below.
Age and Genetics
Age and genetics are two of the main risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia. They’re also the two elements that you simply cannot prevent. The risk of developing these conditions increases as we get older, and the majority of cases occur in people over the age of 65.
Another major risk factor is genetics. People who have a family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia may be at a higher risk of developing these conditions themselves. Studies have identified specific genes that may increase the risk of these conditions, including the APOE gene.
Does Dementia Run in the Family?
There are a very small number of cases where a patient develops dementia at an earlier age. In these cases, there is a greater chance that it may be a type of dementia that can be passed on to younger generations in the family.
While dementia does not have strong hereditary links, research does show that people with family members who have been diagnosed with dementia may be at a higher risk of developing it within their lifetime. Research shows that lifestyle and genetics together can have a great impact on the risk of developing dementia.
For example, Harvard Medical research shows that individuals with an unhealthy lifestyle and a high genetic risk score were almost two and a half times more likely to develop dementia than individuals with a healthy lifestyle and a low genetic score.
Lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, and smoking can also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. Studies have shown that people who eat a diet high in saturated fats and sugar, or who are overweight or obese, may be at a higher risk of these conditions. Similarly, people who do not engage in regular physical activity or who smoke are also at a greater risk.
Brain, Heart, and Blood Vessel Damage
According to Alzheimers.org, there is a connection between traumatic head injuries and the risk of dementia. Traumatic head injuries can severely impact a person’s brain function and cognitive abilities.
There also seems to be a relationship between brain health and heart health: The brain relies on a robust network of blood vessels for nourishment, and the heart is responsible for supplying blood to these vessels. Research suggests that certain conditions that harm the heart and blood vessels, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, may increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia. This is because these conditions can damage the blood vessels in the brain, which can increase the risk of developing these conditions.
Can You Prevent Dementia?
One of the most common questions medical professionals who care for the elderly are asked is, is dementia preventable? The answer is still developing. While there is no cure, research from Weill Cornell Medicine suggests that up to 40% of Alzheimer’s cases may be preventable by managing risk factors.
Risk Reduction Strategies
Early research shows that there are certain behaviors that can be modified and specific lifestyle changes that can be made to minimize the risk of developing dementia. These risk reduction strategies include:
- Eating a Mediterranean-style diet
- Minimizing alcohol consumption
- Exercising at least three hours every week
- Minimizing bad carbohydrates
- Minimizing empty calories
- Getting adequate sleep
- Protecting the head from injury
- Reducing stress
- Monitoring hearing
- Staying socially active
- Seeing a doctor on a regular basis
- Learning new skills
So, is dementia preventable? The ultimate answer to this question is still being studied. However, this research is promising, and these risk-reduction strategies should be seriously considered by seniors and their families.
Managing Alzheimer’s and/or Dementia with In-Home Nursing
While there is no sure way to prevent or cure dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, in-home memory care can help manage symptoms and greatly improve the quality of life of seniors diagnosed with these diseases.
Advanced Nursing + Home Support provides a number of services that can help people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia, including:
- Personal Care: Help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and grooming
- Skilled Nursing Care: Advanced medical attention for people experiencing advanced stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s with or without other medical conditions
- Companion Care: Day-to-day assistance to seniors allowing them to carry out their routines in a safe environment with friendly company
- Memory Care: Support for daily activities from dementia-certified care providers
- Respite Care: Temporary care provided when the normal caregiver will be away or simply needs a break from caregiving
The needs of people with dementia may change over time. It is important to continue to evaluate their symptoms to ensure that they are always receiving the care they need.
In-home care can be a wonderful option for seniors diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s. It allows them to remain in a comfortable environment while receiving the care they need to manage symptoms and continue with a daily routine.
Manage Alzheimer’s and Dementia Symptoms with In-Home Nursing
If you have a loved one in the Maryland or D.C. area in need of memory care or skilled nursing services, Advanced Nursing + Home Support can provide the compassionate, experienced care your loved one needs to live empowered in the comfort of their own home. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or by phone at 240-474-0884 today.