|Argyle and Old Lace - Lifestyle Changes Shift the Tide of Alzheimer’s|
by Dana Klassen, Marketing Director, St. John's Community Care
Study says that even 25% drop in factors like obesity and smoking could cut 500,000 U.S. cases of Alzheimers.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s held by the Alzheimer’s Association is slated for Saturday, September 24 at SIU in Edwardsville, IL. St. John’s Community Care will again form a team and join this important movement to end Alzheimer’s. Many of the clients we serve suffer from some form of dementia with Alzheimer’s being a predominate condition. Daily we see how this disease ravishes victims and their families. It is a devastating disease for which there currently is no cure. That’s why it is critical we do what we can to continue to fund research and educate people.
Currently, there are over 5 million people suffering from this disease in the US. It is the 6th leading cause of death, and accounts for 172 billion dollars in annual costs, with that total predicted to hit $20 trillion in 2050. The reason for the rise in cost is simple and daunting...the number of Americans age 65 and older who will suffer from this disease will more than double, bringing the afflicted to 13.5 million by mid-century if better treatments are not found. Even in light of this tragic prediction, researchers also offer hope. The Alzheimer’s Association is slaving away to find the causes and cures. I also think it is important to understand what we personally can do to slow the progression of this disease in our country.
In a recent article in HealthDay News, it is reported that more than half of the Alzheimer’s cases globally could be prevented if modifiable risk factors such as depression, obesity and smoking were eliminated, either with lifestyle changes or treatment of underlying conditions, new research suggests. According to this article, “Even reducing the level of risk factors by a modest amount could prevent millions of cases of the memory-robbing illness. For example, a 25 percent reduction in common risk factors could prevent up to 3 million Alzheimer’s cases around the world and up to half a million in the U.S. alone."
A second study identified several “resiliency” characteristics that might help keep the aging mind healthy. Strengthening these factors could also help prevent Alzheimer’s. Researchers from the University of California San Francisco looked at the seven key risk factors: low education levels, smoking, low physical activity, depression, hypertension during mid-life, obesity and diabetes. They estimated that, together, these risk factors account for 17 million cases of Alzheimer’s worldwide and 3 million of the U.S. cases.
In the United States, 21 percent of the cases could be traced to low physical activity, 15 percent to depression, 11 percent to smoking, 8 percent to mid-life hypertension, 7 percent to mid-life obesity, 7 percent to low education and 3 percent to diabetes.
Healthy circulation in the brain is thought to be key to keeping the mind sharp, and numerous studies have tied common heart risk factors to an increased risk of dementia. But researchers stressed that the risk factors are not the cause but are associated with the disease. In yet another study, researchers found that older individuals who had less stress, anxiety, depression and trauma were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The team from the University of Pennsylvania tracked levels of what they call “resilient cognition” in 136 American’s adults age 65 or older. After three years, the ability of these individuals to maintain relatively low levels of stress, anxiety, depression and trauma even when faced with stressful situations was closely tied to maintaining healthy thinking ability. The team believes that key to this resilience is an ability to cope, to ask for help, and to maintain a positive attitude and take action even in the face of adversity.
Conversely, people who were neglected as children or entertained suicidal thoughts ended to have poorer cognitive performance. Want to know more about these studies? Contact the Alzheimer’s Association by going to their website . (2011 HealthDay)