National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month: What’s New?

Alzheimer’s Disease affects more than six million Americans, as well as their families and caretakers. Experts at the CDC predict that this number will grow to 14 million by 2060. At this point, there are some treatments that can help with some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but there is no cure. 

However, researchers are learning more and more about this condition, and there is new information that may help people delay or even avoid developing Alzheimer’s and related dementias. 

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition that affects the brain. It can begin with memory loss but affects the individual’s daily life in many ways. Symptoms can include personality changes, loss of judgment, and severe memory loss. 

Common Questions About Alzheimer’s Disease

What causes Alzheimer’s disease?

There is still much more to learn, but it is clear that age is the top risk factor for this condition. Genetic factors also play a part. 

The good news is that lifestyle decisions at a younger age can also affect the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s as you get older. 

Alzheimer’s and the Simple Seven

Making healthy choices throughout your life significantly reduces your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease, even if you have a genetic predisposition toward it. 

The basics are well established:

  • Eat right.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid risky choices like smoking or overconsuming alcohol.

What’s new?

There are many people studying Alzheimer’s disease, and new discoveries are being made on a regular basis. Here are some recent studies:

  • It’s well known that sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. However, a recent study found that what people do while they’re sitting around also makes a difference. Passive behavior like watching TV increases risk while using a computer or reading, which requires more active thought, decreases the risk.
  • Hearing loss turns out to be a major risk factor for dementia. It can actually double the risk for some people. Now that hearing aids can be bought over the counter, it might be easier for people who begin to lose their hearing to take action on this problem. 
  • One factor that might explain the connection between hearing loss and dementia is social isolation. Observations during the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed that loneliness is a risk factor for dementia, increasing chances of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 64%, according to one study.
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure in middle years of ages 40 to 65 may increase the risk for Alzheimer’s later on, according to new research. Controlling your blood pressure is an important healthy habit for everyone; now we see that it is particularly important for maintaining good brain health as well as good heart health.

If you are concerned about Alzheimer’s disease

 Talk with your doctor if you have questions about dementia. Catching the condition early may help manage its progression. Taking wise steps now may also help delay or diminish onset.