November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and while the disease is complex and delicate in terms of treatment and finding a possible cure, we are discovering more about the nature of this illness almost everyday. From prevention to earlier detection, Alzheimer’s has not gone unnoticed, and the journey towards reducing one’s risk is becoming a hopeful one. Here are simple, clear-cut ways to help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, and for loved ones who may be struggling, here are some ways to distinguish early cognitive decline.
- Mediterranean Diet:
- Recent studies have shown that a diet rich in healthy fats, like the Mediterranean Diet, which includes regular consumption of olive oil, nuts, legumes, fish, and whole grains, may help to slow cognitive decline in older adults.
- It has also been proven to reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) progressing into Alzheimer’s Disease. If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s, this is an excellent way to begin protecting yourself.
- Over the years, damage from free radicals has been linked to the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. Including vitamin E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, and vitamin C into your diet may help prevent oxidative stress.
- Load up on citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, which are high in vitamin C, as well as fruits like kiwi, strawberries, and dark cherries to get essential antioxidants into your diet. Check out my Indulgent Antioxidant Smoothie recipe, full of delicious greens and dark cherries.
- You can also find beta-carotene in veggies like kale, carrots, broccoli, and spinach.
- Exercise (and not just the kind that gets your heart pumping) is a great way to keep the mind sharp and young. Daily physical activity will increase the blood flow to your brain and body, while reducing potential dementia risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
- Keeping the brain active is also important when it comes to prevention! Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and even “brain game” apps on your iPhone (like Brain Fitness Pro or Clockwork Brain) are great ways to keep your mind healthy.
These are key ways to tell if you or a loved one may be showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of cognitive impairment.
- Time and location confusion
- People with Alzheimer’s disease not only struggle with remembering specific dates and places of past events, but their current time and location, too.
- Trouble with everyday activities
- Simple tasks such as shoe tying or grocery shopping may become difficult or confusing. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you begin having trouble with routine activities.
- Personality changes
- Watch out for recurring feelings of depression, anxiety and fear without any clear cause.
- Issues with reading, writing, or speaking
- Identifying items by the wrong name (example: a “hand clock” instead of a watch), inability to understand a sentence or the meaning of a word, and having trouble speaking are signs of cognitive decline.
For more information on the latest research and updates on Alzheimer’s visit the Alzheimer’s Association website. And remember to wear your purple this November!