Dementia refers to a decline in cognitive function that interferes with daily life and activities. While Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, or loss of intellectual function, among people age 65 and older, it is NOT a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s starts in a region of the brain that affects recent memory, then gradually spreads to other parts of the brain. Although treatment can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and help manage its symptoms in some people, currently there is no cure for this devastating disease. Although Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, it is the only disease in the top 10 without a cure or treatment.
Signs & Symptoms
What are the warning signs of Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease may start with slight memory loss and confusion, but it eventually leads to irreversible mental impairment that destroys a person’s ability to remember, reason, learn and imagine. Research indicates that African-American family members recognize the value of having a diagnosis, long delays often occur between family members’ first recognition of symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementias and the scheduling of a medical evaluation. The same is true for people in other racial and ethnic minority groups.
Memory loss and confusion are NOT a natural part of aging.
Some key behaviors to note that may indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s or another dementia include
Problems with abstract thinking
Difficulty finding the right word
Loss of judgment
Difficulty performing familiar task
Withdrawal from work or social activities
Prevention & Tips
Currently, there is no proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. However, you can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by reducing your risk of heart disease. Alzheimer’s Association research shows that high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and stroke are known factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Some people have more than one of the four diseases, placing them at even greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
African-Americans have a higher rate of vascular disease (diseases involving blood vessels, including heart attack and stroke) – one of the suspected risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease.
To Reduce Your Risk
Become or remain active – physically
Monitor blood pressure numbers
Prevent or control diabetes
Strive for overall wellness
Change Your Lifestyle
Changes that can reduce incidences of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Making small lifestyle changes can delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease, by reducing the risk of other conditions that contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Recommendations include:
Don’t smoke. If you’re already smoking, stop.
Engage in mind-challenging activities such as arithmetic and cross-word puzzles.
Avoid a high-fat diet.
Avoid head injuries – often happened in falls.
Limit salt intake.
Eat food high in anti-oxidants: fresh fruits and vegetables.