Showing posts with label how to prevent dementia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label how to prevent dementia. Show all posts

Saturday, May 30, 2020

No Magic Pill for Dementia or Alzheimers - But Lifestyle Changes Can Help

Despite all the advertisements you may have seen, as of 2020 there are NO magic pills which will prevent dementia or Alzheimer's Disease, including those over-the-counter medications which are advertised constantly and sound highly appealing.  This was the conclusion of researchers from the MIND program at the University of California - Irvine.  It was also the conclusion of a study completed by the AARP Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH).  While this may be disappointing news to the millions of people who live in fear of developing some form of dementia as they age, at least it may help them avoid wasting money on unnecessary memory or brain supplements.

In addition to the work done by the UCI - MIND researchers, an AARP report titled, "The Real Deal on Brain Health Supplements," claims that people spent over $3 billion on brain supplements in 2016, and it was a "massive waste of money."  The experts interviewed for the article, which included doctors, scientists, scholars and policy experts, determined that "scientific evidence does not support the use of any supplement to prevent, slow, reverse or stop cognitive decline or dementia or other related neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's."

To make matters worse, the researchers were actually concerned that some of the supplements might not be either safe or pure.  Some of them could even harm consumers.

Conclusion of Dr. Joshua Grill of UCI-MIND
Prescription Medications Do Not Help, Either

Dr. Joshua Grill of UCI MIND reported at a 2019 Senior Summit in Orange County, California that it has been over 15 years since any new prescription medications have been brought to the market to treat dementia or Alzheimer's Disease.  The overall conclusion by a variety of researchers is that there are no drugs which can either prevent or treat dementia in any significant way. At most, there may be a few medications which can slightly slow the progression in some people, but that is the best we currently have.

Good News: You are Not Helpless Against Dementia

Despite the grim news about medical interventions to prevent dementia, people are not completely helpless.  There ARE steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing dementia, but it is not as simple as taking a pill and assuming you can continue to live however you want.  True dementia prevention means taking an assertive approach to lifestyle changes.

Research from Dr. Joshua Grill of UCI-MIND
The Lifestyle Changes Which Reduce Dementia Risk

Eat a Healthy Diet - The best diet for brain health is actually called the MIND Diet and you can learn more about it in "The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook." (Ad) This book will take you step-by-step through the best food choices to make if you want to protect your brain.  Even if you do not follow it 100% of the time, it will help you set up an eating plan which you can aspire to.

Get Daily Exercise - Your brain cannot function properly without a steady flow of oxygen and nutrients, and the best way to flood your brain with what it needs is to keep the blood flowing.  Get at least one 30 minute walk a day, and if you can take several walks, that is even better.  You may also want to take a balance or exercise class to strengthen your muscles.  This could prevent you from falling and hitting your head, which could cause brain trauma ... another cause of dementia. 

Exercise Your Brain - If you spend your days bored in front of the television, your brain will gradually lose its sharpness.  You need to give it regular workouts including reading books, learning new skills, playing games, and working puzzles. Some people continue to work late in life, which can be very mentally stimulating. Others have found it is never too late to go back to school and get that degree they always wanted.  The more education you have, the lower your risk of dementia. Work your brain in a wide variety of ways for the best results. 

Socialize with Other People - Socializing helps you in a number of ways, whether you do it in person, over the phone, or virtually, using a website like Zoom.  It relaxes you and helps stimulate your brain when you engage in a conversation.  When you socialize, you may learn something new or be inspired to take up an interesting hobby. In addition, there is no way to predict what another person will say.  After they speak, you need to think about it and respond almost instantly.  This is a great brain exercise, and the more time you spend conversing, the more you will give your brain a real workout. There is no telling where an interesting conversation may lead you, and the benefit to your brain is a bonus!

Find healthy ways to deal with stress - Take up activities such as yoga or meditation.  If you are religious, spend some time each day in prayer. These activities will help you relax and make your life easier. It will also help lower your blood pressure, which is important for good brain health.  In addition, it may improve the quality of your sleep, which is also necessary to brain health.

Give up your vices - It may be difficult to stop smoking, moderate your alcohol consumption, and stop indulging in rich, fattening foods, but if it means you might keep your cognitive abilities for years longer, it will be worth it.

Obey Your Doctor and Dentist's Orders - Whether your dentist tells you to get your teeth cleaned more often, or your doctor prescribes cholesterol lowering drugs, your efforts to maintain your overall physical health will also help protect your brain.  Many people do not realize that their oral health also affects their heart health and their Alzheimer's risk.  See your doctor and dentist regularly and follow their instructions!

Stay Up-to-date on Alzheimer's Research - New research is constantly being done on how we can lower our dementia and Alzheimer's risk.  Read as much of this research as possible. A good place to start is the book "The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline."  This book has some great tips for keeping your brain functioning at its maximum capacity for as long as possible. It was a New York Time's best seller and I highly recommend it for anyone over the age of 50.  (Ad)

In summary, there are no magic pills or shortcuts which will protect your brain from most forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease.  However, you may be able to postpone or prevent it if you live a lifestyle which is protective.  While there are no guarantees, it is worth a try, isn't it?

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

If you are interested in reading more about common medical issues as we age, where to retire, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Photo credits: and UCI MIND

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tips for a Sharper Brain and Better Memory

While most of us will not completely lose our memory to Alzheimer's Disease or another form of dementia, there may be times when nearly all of us feel as though our thinking is a bit fuzzy or we cannot remember as well as we used to.  At the same time, we are constantly amazed by some of our peers who seem to stay "sharp as a tack."  Is there anything the rest of us can do to have a sharper brain and clear memory?  According to a number of leading experts, the answer is "Yes."

The Connection Between Your Heart and Brain

Our brain is dependent on the nutrients which our heart sends its way.  According to Dr. Hannah Gardener in the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami, the stronger our heart, the less cognitive decline we will experience.  She suggests that everyone strives to meet as many of the goals on this list as possible:

Stop Smoking
Have a BMI of under 25
Be physically active at least 150 minutes a week
Have a total cholesterol under 200 mg/dL
Have a healthy blood pressure under 120/80 mmHg
Have a healthy blood sugar under 100 mg/dL
Eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies and whole gains; low in sodium and sweets

Even if you cannot achieve all of the above goals perfectly, the closer you come, the better off your brain will be.

Follow the MIND Diet

This blog has discussed the MIND diet before.  It is short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.  MIND is much easier to remember.  Below is a brief summary of the diet, although anyone who wants to follow it would be smart to get a more detailed book on the subject.


6 servings of salad a week
7 servings of other vegetables a week
2 servings of berries a week
5 servings of nuts a week
3 servings of whole grains a day
1 serving of fish (not fried) every week
3 servings of beans a week
2 servings of poultry a week
Use extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter
Optional: 1 glass of wine a day


Butter - no more than one tablespoon a day
Cheese - no more than one serving a week
Red meat - no more than four servings a week
Fried foods - less than one serving a week
Sweets and pastries - no more than five servings a week

Exercise Your Brain

Research has shown that people who regularly give their bodies and brains a work-out are able to postpone the signs of cognitive decline.  Here are some of the things everyone should do:

Get exercise - walk, cycle, swim and lift light weights - 150 minutes a week
Play games - chess, board games, puzzles, etc.
Meditate - spend your "down time" meditating a few minutes every day
Explore Your Artistic Side - sing, act, draw, paint or play an instrument
Read - in particular, read books as well as newspapers or magazines

Other Health and Lifestyle Changes

In addition to the above recommendations, research has shown a link between socializing with others and having a higher level of cognition.  On the other hand, people who are lonely tend to have poorer brain health.  Stay in touch with family and friends.  Join a club.  If you are religious, get involved in a place of worship.  Sign up to take classes.  The more time you spend interacting with other people and learning new things, the more likely you will be able to postpone dementia.

In addition, see your doctor regularly and treat any other problems you may have, including emotional ones.  People who have depression in middle age are at a higher risk for cognitive decline in later life.  People who have sleep problems also see more rapid mental decline as they age.  Talk to your doctor about any health issues you are experiencing and get them treated.  

Medications and Dementia

If you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing signs of dementia, see your doctor as soon as possible.  Researchers are continually discovering new medications which seem to slow down the progression of Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia.  The sooner these drugs are started, the more successful they are.

In addition, it is possible your brain fogginess or symptoms of dementia could actually be a side effect of a medication you are currently taking.  If you suspect this could be your situation, talk to your doctor about changes which could be made to your prescriptions to minimize this problem.

If you are interested in learning more about how to maintain your health as you age, financial planning, Medicare, Social Security, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Alzheimers Disease Research

Are you worried about developing Alzheimer's Disease?  You have good reason to be.  Currently, there are about 5.3 million people in the United States who have Alzheimer's.  By 2050, experts believe that there will be over 15 million people in the U.S. living with this dreadful disease.

Dr. Kenneth S. Kosik is a neurologist who has been researching Alzheimer's for the past 25 years, originally at Harvard Medical School and later at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  While he has not found a drug or technological treatment for the disease, he has discovered lifestyle behaviors that seem to dramatically reduce the risk.

Habits of People Who Have a Low Dementia Risk

1.  Physical activity lowers dementia risk.  You do not need to run a marathon to benefit.  Exercising three times a week for 15 to 30 minutes each time resulted in fewer cases of Alzheimer's disease, even for people who had the disease run in their family.

2.  Walk a mile a day.  People who walk six to nine miles a week have more gray matter in their brains.

3.  Dance!  Dancing not only provides physical activity, but it keeps you social.  Socializing and learning new steps are both good for your brain.

4.  Eat brain healthy foods ... leafy greens, vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine.  Eating four servings of vegetables a day can cut your cognitive decline by 40 percent.

5.  Minimize unhealthy foods ... butter, margarine, red meat, cheese, sweets, desserts, fried food and fast food.

6.  Use brain healthy spices, especially curry and turmeric.  They contain the antioxidant curcumin, which can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, cancer, arthritis and depression.

7.  Make friends and spend time with them.  As mentioned above, socializing is very important.  People who spend time with others had a 70 percent lower rate of cognitive decline over a 12 year period.

Take on mentally stimulating tasks.  Research shows that you can postpone dementia by nearly a decade by exercising your brain.  Here are some activities you could try:  read both fiction and non-fiction (especially new topics), play board games, practice a musical instrument, work on puzzles, draw, paint or sculpt.

How to Learn More about Reducing Alzheimer's Risk

Would you like to learn more about Dr. Kosik's research?  You can use this link to order his book "Outsmarting Alzheimer's" from Amazon.  It is available in both hardcover and paperback versions. You may also be interested in the other books on dementia shown below. They are well worth reading.

If you want to know more about common health issues as we age, where to retire, financial planning, family relationships and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of other helpful articles.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How to Postpone Alzheimers and Dementia

As if we don't have enough problems to worry about when we start planning our retirement, most of us also wonder if we will still have fully functioning brains as we age. Dementia, including diseases like Alzheimers, is a very real health concern.

I wanted to pass on this information that I picked up from the website RealAge. com. It is from a September, 2011 article entitled "7 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer's."

Before I reveal their suggestions, it is important for people to realize that there is currently no way to guarantee that doing these things will actually permanently prevent Alzheimers. However, some medical researchers seem to believe that about half of all cases could at least be postponed. As far as I'm concerned, these are facts that are worth knowing about. Below are the actions that Real Age recommends we all take for better brain health.

How to Postpone Dementia

1. Don't smoke. That's one habit I don't have. For those of you who do, this is one more reason to throw that pack away!  Smokers have more than twice the incidence of dementia!

2. Get exercise. According to Real Age, taking a daily walk can keep your brain from shrinking, because it increases the blood flow throughout your body, including to your brain. Who knew??  Of course, walking is also good for other aspects of our health, as well.

3. Keep your blood pressure low. High blood pressure is related to Alzheimers. One food they recommend is watermelon. Apparently, it is very effective at lowering blood pressure. That's wonderful, since it is one of my favorite summer fruits!  Some people may also need to take blood pressure medication.  It if enables you to think more clearly as you age, you may seriously want to consider medication if your blood pressure is high.

4. Get a good night's sleep. This suggestion was a bit more complicated. According to Real Age, if you don't sleep enough, you increase the chances that you will get type 2 diabetes, and diabetes is related Alzheimers. I think this suggestion should have been to simply live a lifestyle that reduces your chances of getting diabetes!  However, even outside of the diabetes link, I have read other reports that suggest that people who have the best quality sleep also are less likely to develop dementia.

5. Go outside. This suggestion seems simple enough. Apparently, when you spend time outside you are less likely to feel depressed, and depression is linked to Alzheimers. (It seems to me that this is one more reason to live somewhere that has mild winters!)

6. Keep learning. Medical researchers have discovered that it is especially beneficial to learn a new language, although any type of learning seems to be beneficial. French classes, anyone?  If you don't want to learn a new language, you might consider music lessons, learning to play a new game or developing other challenging skills.

7. Lose weight. I knew that one would show up. I keep trying, but I am sure that I am going to take a few extra pounds to my grave with me! However, perhaps the fear of not being able to remember the names of my loved ones will make a difference. I'll keep trying ... and I suggest that other people do, too.  However, there is also research that it is better not to be underweight.  It seems that the best situation is to be at your ideal weight or slightly more than that.

In the comment section of the Real Age article, readers made their own suggestions. One person suggested that a glass of red wine once in a while could help our brains. Other people suggested adding tumeric to your food and tea. Tumeric is found in curry powder in the U.S.

The Doctor Oz television show on ABC also did a special about Alzheimers on September 21, 2011. He had as his guests Dr. Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra. First, he showed slices of a brain with Alzheimers, and you could actually see the holes in the brain. Then, Dr. Oz and his guests mentioned some supplements they use to ward off Alzheimers. Among the products they suggested were: Vitamin D, the herb Ginko, Phosphatidylsirene (also called PS), coffee, magnesium, tumeric, sage and ginger. You may want to look up this television show and watch the entire program.  I want to mention, however, that some of these suggestions are not backed by scientific research.  However, moderate amounts of those products will not harm you, and they might do your brain some good.

The way I look at it, none of these suggestions will hurt me, and I plan to try at least some of them. Anything I can do to prevent or postpone Alzeimers seems worthwhile to me.

If you are interested in reading other articles about aging, retirement, retirement planning, maintaining your health, where to retire or financial planning, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles. 

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