Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay Assignment Paper
Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay Assignment Paper
Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
The scientific understanding of dementia has only recently shifted from that of a late-life disease to that of a lifelong process which is affected by factors throughout life.
A recent analysis found that as much as half of risk for Alzheimer’s disease is due to potentially modifiable factors (Barnes & Yaffe 2011). The effect of these factors can be considerably reduced, either by making changes in lifestyle, or by making sure that disorders such as depression and diabetes do not go undetected and untreated.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
That dementia is, in part, preventable is an important public health message (Barnett et al. 2013). Here we review the seven key modifiable risk factors which can help prevent Alzheimer’s throughout life.
Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
1. Detect and treat depression
While we don’t yet know how to prevent depression, we do know that many people with depression do not get adequate treatment, and that untreated depression can significantly increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease.The links between depression and dementia are complex. Many cognitive functions such as attention, memory and planning can be affected in depression (Porter et al. 2003), and in older patients, it can be unclear whether a cognitive problem is a symptom of depression, dementia, or both. It is thought that untreated depression can significantly increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease – for example the MIRAGE study found a significant association between depression and Alzheimer’s disease (Green et al. 2003).Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
2. Increase exercise/physical activity
We all know that exercise and physical activity supports a healthy heart and increasingly it is recognised as crucial too for healthy brain function, including cognitive function, throughout life. There is also emerging evidence that exercise can improve cognition in people who already have cognitive impairment. For example, exercise has been reported to improve mild cognitive impairment (Barnes 2015), and in 2011 CANTAB was used to show that non-aerobic movement over 6 weeks produced significant improvement in sustained attention and visual memory in AD (Yágüez et al. 2010). Following this (Farina et al. 2014) found using CANTAB that physical activity can have a positive effect on cognitive decline in AD.
3. Detect and treat high blood pressure
Raised blood pressure or hypertension is a huge risk factor for stroke and cerebrovascular disease. Its role as a pre-cursor to other neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s, is sometimes overlooked despite there being clear links between hypertension and impaired cognitive function (Duron & Hanon 2008; Louis et al. 1999; Kilander et al. 1998).Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
4. Eat healthily
As with physical activity, what’s good for the heart is good for the head: so it probably comes as no surprise that being very overweight increases risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases. But it is perhaps more surprising that the specific types of food we eat can affect our risk of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly the Mediterranean diet – a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals and low in meat, sugar and saturated fat which is thought to considerably reduce risk (Sofi et al. 2010; Scarmeas et al. 2009).
5. Keep learning
Research has shown that those with fewer years of formal education are at higher risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias than those with more years of formal education. (Sando et al. 2008; Stern n.d.) Scientists believe that having more years of education helps to create a “cognitive reserve” that enables patients to better compensate for changes in the brain resulting from Alzheimer’s or other neurological diseases, essentially masking the symptoms for longer than in people with less education.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
6. Quit the habit
It’s well known that smoking is bad for your health, but perhaps less well known that it is associated with risk for Alzheimer’s. And a meta-analysis of 19 studies of people with dementia followed for at least one year showed that those who smoked at baseline showed greater cognitive decline at follow up. (Anstey et al. 2007).
7. Detect and treat diabetes
Diabetes, and its treatments, can impact the brain and cognitive function, making it another risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies showed that people with diabetes are at higher risk of Alzheimer’s (Lu et al. 2009). If drugs were available to improve cognitive deficits, could this slow decline?
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So what next?
Whilst these are not a complete or final list of the many risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease, they are reasonable places to start in adjusting lifestyles to lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Clearly, further studies are still needed to understand how these and other lifestyle factors affect risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and how reduction in these risk factors among those who already have some impairment might lower the conversion rates to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
We believe that a key factor in preventing the onset, or worsening, of Alzheimer’s and other dementias is the ability to accurately monitor memory and other cognitive functions throughout later life. CANTAB Mobile is a simple to use medical app available to GPs to objectively assess memory in older adults who are worried about their risk for dementia. While no cures are yet available, there are a number of reasons why detecting mild cognitive impairment early may be useful to patients and families – including helping them to put plans in place for the future.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Can Alzheimer’s and dementia be prevented?
Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the biggest concerns many of us have as we get older. The thought of developing the disease can be a frightening prospect, especially if you’ve witnessed a loved one affected by dementia. While you may have been told that all you can do is hope for the best and wait for a pharmaceutical cure, the truth is much more encouraging. Promising research shows that you can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias through a combination of simple but effective lifestyle changes.
By identify and controlling your personal risk factors and leading a brain-healthy lifestyle, you can maximize your chances of lifelong brain health and preserve your cognitive abilities. These steps may prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow down the process of deterioration.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Alzheimer’s is a complex disease with multiple risk factors. Some, like your age and genetics, are outside your control. However, there are seven pillars for a brain-healthy lifestyle that are within your control:
Experts now believe that the risk of Alzheimer’s is not limited to old age, but in fact can start in the brain long before symptoms are detected, often in middle age. That means that it’s never too early to start taking care of your brain health. The more you strengthen each of the seven pillars in your daily life, the longer—and stronger—your brain will stay working and the more likely you’ll be able to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another dementia.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Pillar #1: Regular exercise
Women walking for exercise talking
According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. What’s more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia by stimulating the brain’s ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. The ideal plan involves a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Good activities for beginners include walking and swimming.
Build muscle to pump up your brain. Moderate levels of weight and resistance training not only increase muscle mass, they help you maintain brain health. For those over 65, adding 2-3 strength sessions to your weekly routine may cut your risk of Alzheimer’s in half.
Include balance and coordination exercises. Head injuries from falls are an increasing risk as you age, which in turn increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. As well as protecting your head when you exercise (wearing a sports helmet when cycling, for example), balance and coordination exercises can help you stay agile and avoid spills. Try yoga, Tai Chi, or exercises using balance balls.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Tips for starting and sticking with an exercise plan
If you’ve been inactive for a while, starting an exercise program can be intimidating. But remember: a little exercise is better than none. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your health. Choose activities you enjoy and start small—a 10-minute walk a few times a day, for example—and allow yourself to gradually build up your momentum and self-confidence.
Pillar #2: Social engagement
Women connecting smiling
Human beings are highly social creatures. We don’t thrive in isolation, and neither do our brains. Staying socially engaged may even protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in later life, so make developing and maintaining a strong network of friends a priority.
You don’t need to be a social butterfly or the life of the party, but you do need to regularly connect face-to-face with someone who cares about you and makes you feel heard. While many of us become more isolated as we get older, it’s never too late to meet others and develop new friendships:Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
In Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation and insulin resistance injure neurons and inhibit communication between brain cells. Alzheimer’s is sometimes described as “diabetes of the brain,” and a growing body of research suggests a strong link between metabolic disorders and the signal processing systems. By adjusting your eating habits, however, you can help reduce inflammation and protect your brain.
Manage your weight. Extra pounds are a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. A major study found that people who were overweight in midlife were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s down the line, and those who were obese had three times the risk. Losing weight can go a long way to protecting your brain.
Cut down on sugar. Sugary foods and refined carbs such as white flour, white rice, and pasta can lead to dramatic spikes in blood sugar which inflame your brain. Watch out for hidden sugar in all kinds of packaged foods from cereals and bread to pasta sauce and low or no-fat products.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Enjoy a Mediterranean diet. Several epidemiological studies show that eating a Mediterranean diet dramatically reduces the risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. That means plenty of vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish and olive oil—and limited processed food.
Get plenty of omega-3 fats. Evidence suggests that the DHA found in these healthy fats may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. Food sources include cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, seaweed, and sardines. You can also supplement with fish oil.
Stock up on fruit and vegetables. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the more the better. Eat up across the color spectrum to maximize protective antioxidants and vitamins, including green leafy vegetables, berries, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli.
Cook at home often. By cooking at home, you can ensure that you’re eating fresh, wholesome meals that are high in brain-healthy nutrients and low in sugar, salt, unhealthy fat, and additives.
Drink only in moderation. While there appear to be brain benefits in consuming red wine in moderation,heavy alcohol consumption can dramatically raise the risk of Alzheimer’s and accelerate brain aging.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Pillar #4: Mental stimulation
Man playing chess
Those who continue learning new things and challenging their brains throughout life are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In essence, you need to “use it or lose it.” In the groundbreaking NIH ACTIVE study, older adults who received as few as 10 sessions of mental training not only improved their cognitive functioning in daily activities in the months after the training, but continued to show long-lasting improvements 10 years later.
Activities involving multiple tasks or requiring communication, interaction, and organization offer the greatest protection. Set aside time each day to stimulate your brain:
Learn something new. Study a foreign language, practice a musical instrument, or learn to paint or sew. One of the best ways to take up a new hobby is to sign up for a class and then schedule regular times for practicing. The greater the novelty, complexity, and challenge, the greater the benefit.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Raise the bar for an existing activity. If you’re not keen on learning something new, you can still challenge your brain by increasing your skills and knowledge of something you already do. For example, if you can play the piano and don’t want to learn a new instrument, commit to learning a new piece of music or improving how well you play your favorite piece.
Practice memorization techniques. For example, make up a sentence in which the first letter of each word represents the initial of what you want to remember, such as using the sentence “Every good boy does fine” to memorize the notes of the treble clef, E, G, B, D, and F. Creating rhymes and patterns can strengthen your memory connections.
Enjoy strategy games, puzzles, and riddles. Brain teasers and strategy games provide a great mental workout and build your capacity to form and retain cognitive associations. Do a crossword puzzle, play board games, cards, or word and number games such as Scrabble or Sudoku.
Follow the road less traveled. Take a new route or eat with your non-dominant hand. Vary your habits regularly to create new brain pathways.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
There are a number of links between poor sleep patterns and the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Some studies have emphasized the importance of quality sleep for flushing out toxins in the brain. Others have linked poor sleep to higher levels of beta-amyloid in the brain, a sticky protein that can further disrupt the deep sleep necessary for memory formation.
If nightly sleep deprivation is slowing your thinking and or affecting your mood, you may be at greater risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. To help improve your sleep:
Establish a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and getting up at the same time reinforces your natural circadian rhythms. Your brain’s clock responds to regularity.
Set the mood. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, and ban television and computers from the bedroom (both are stimulating and may lead to difficulties falling asleep).
Create a relaxing bedtime ritual. Take a hot bath, do some light stretches, listen to relaxing music, or dim the lights. As it becomes habit, your nightly ritual will send a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time for deep restorative sleep.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Quiet your inner chatter. When stress, anxiety, or worrying keeps you awake, get out of bed. Try reading or relaxing in another room for twenty minutes then hop back in.
Get screened for sleep apnea. If you’ve received complaints about your snoring, you may want to get tested for sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous condition where breathing is disrupted during sleep. Treatment can make a huge difference in both your health and sleep quality.
Pillar #6: Stress management
Stress free woman with earbuds in her ears
Chronic or persistent stress can take a heavy toll on the brain, leading to shrinkage in a key memory area, hampering nerve cell growth, and increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Yet simple stress management tools can minimize its harmful effects.
Schedule daily relaxation activities. Keeping stress under control requires regular effort. Learning relaxation techniques such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga can help you unwind and reverse the damaging effects of stress.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
Nourish inner peace. Regular meditation, prayer, reflection, and religious practice may immunize you against the damaging effects of stress.
Make fun a priority. All work and no play is not good for your stress levels or your brain. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress.
Pillar #7: Vascular health
Senior couple measure their blood pressure
There’s more and more evidence to indicate that what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. Maintaining your cardiovascular health can be crucial in lowering your risk for different types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. And of course, addressing heart-health issues can also help you to lower your risk for a future heart attack or stroke.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
Control your blood pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure is strongly associated with an increased risk of dementia. High blood pressure can damage tiny blood vessels in the parts of the brain responsible for cognition and memory. The latest American Heart Association guidelines class blood pressure readings of 130/80 mm Hg and above as the start of high blood pressure.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Check your blood pressure at home. A study in the Netherlands found that a large variation in blood pressure readings over a period of years was associated with an increased risk of dementia. Inexpensive monitors that wrap around your upper arm can help you keep track of your blood pressure throughout the day and pick up on any variations. Some devices even send the results to your phone so you can easily track your readings or share them with your doctor.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
Make healthy diet and lifestyle changes. Exercising, trimming your waistline, lowering your stress, and reducing your salt, caffeine, and alcohol intake can all help to lower your blood pressure. Try to cut back on takeout, canned, and processed food which tend to be high in sodium and replace them with fresh vegetables and fruit.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
The DASH diet for lowering blood pressure
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, is a specially designed eating plan to help you lower your blood pressure. When combined with a reduction in salt, the DASH diet may help lower your blood pressure without the need for medication. See “Get more help” below.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
Take any medication your doctor recommends. Research from Johns Hopkins found that those prescribed antihypertensive medication to control high blood pressure lowered their dementia risk by about a third.
Don’t ignore low blood pressure. While it affects far fewer of us, low blood pressure (hypotension) can also reduce blood flow to the brain. While the American Heart Association offers no specific measurement for when blood pressure is considered too low, symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision, and unsteadiness when standing may indicate a problem.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Other vascular health tips
Watch your cholesterol levels. Studies also suggests there may be a connection between high cholesterol and the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia, especially having high cholesterol levels in mid-life. Improving your levels can be good for both your brain and your heart.
Stop smoking. Smoking is one of the most preventable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. One study found that smokers over the age of 65 have a nearly 80% higher risk of Alzheimer’s than those who have never smoked. When you stop smoking, the brain benefits from improved circulation almost immediately.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
Women and Alzheimer’s risk
Women are about twice as likely as men to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe this higher risk can be linked to a decrease in fertility and the onset of menopause in middle age. As a woman, the drop in estrogen not only triggers symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, but it can also affect your brain. Since estrogen protects brain cells from aging, a large decrease during menopause may make you more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s later in life.
Hormone replacement therapy can carry risks, but there’s evidence to suggest that taking supplemental estrogen before menopause may help lower your chances of developing dementia. Using the seven pillars in middle age can also be beneficial, especially adopting a healthy diet. Eating foods rich in antioxidants such as fruit, leafy green vegetables, and nuts may help protect your brain, while flaxseeds, soy, nuts, red wine, and fruits such as strawberries, peaches, and apricots can help naturally boost estrogen levels.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
One third of people in the United States over age 85 suffer from Alzheimer’s. The medications used for Alzheimer’s so far, while beneficial in targeting symptoms, are often not used widely due to their side effect profile, and do not prevent Alzheimer’s disease from occurring.
Nevertheless, as ongoing research is showing, there are a number of preventative measures that could be worth taking. Here are some of them.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
1. Plant-based compounds: A new study by Shal and colleagues that came out within the last month showed the neuroprotective properties of various plant-based compounds that might help prevent the neurodegeneration of Alzheimer’s disease.1 The authors of this latest study note that phytochemicals such as Quercetin (in mulberry fruit), Oxyresveratrol (in white mulberry), Cucurmin (found in turmeric), and different compounds found in ginger root, green tea, citrus fruits, gingko biloba, and ginseng have strong anti-inflammatory and/or anti-oxidant properties that are neuroprotective and have potential for benefit in Alzheimer’s disease.1 Some of these compounds, such as ginger, cucurmin, and gingko have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal properties in China, India, and other parts of the world.1 Gingko has shown slowed cognitive decline in studies involving thousands of patients.2 Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Alzheimer’s is a severe, progressive, neurodegenerative disease involving brain inflammation that has no cure to date. However, research involving many of the above-mentioned compounds so far has focused on animal brain models in which protective and preventative effects have been proven. More research is needed to further establish similar neuroprotective efficacy for Alzheimer’s disease in human brains.
Also worth noting is that anything that has an effect (or benefit) can have a side effect. Although from what we know so far, side effects associated with the above-mentioned compounds are much lesser than those associated with prescription medications for Alzheimer’s. However, side effects can occur. For instance, compounds such as gingko can increase risk of bleeding, which is especially significant and important if you are already taking a blood-thinning medication, have a bleeding disorder, or have an upcoming surgery.3 In any case, you should not use any of these agents without consulting with your doctor as the risk of interactions and adverse effects is there, especially as elderly people often have many medical problems and a greater number of medications that can increase risk of interactions.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
2. Address vascular risk factors such as hypertension and high cholesterol: Another new study by Larsson and Markus that just came out this month shows that antihypertensive treatment and statins may lower likelihood of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.4 This meta-analysis is based on a review of eight randomized controlled trials and 52 prospective trials.4 Hypertension and high cholesterol have been recognized as ‘vascular risk factors’ for Alzheimer’s disease. We know that statins have been associated with controversy about their risks-versus-benefit profile. However, these results are especially worth noting as they shed light on a different aspect of statin use.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
3. Aerobic Exercise: Moderate aerobic exercise has the strongest evidence for protective effects on brain health and in reducing risk of Alzheimer’s disease.5 A study showed that walking was associated with increased volume of the hippocampus, the part of the brain most involved in memory.5 Exercise achieves these benefits by strengthening neural cell connections, decreasing inflammation and oxidative damage and increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which has been linked with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.5
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. The frequency of Alzheimer’s disease is increasing as the New Zealand population ages. It has been estimated that the number of New Zealanders living with Alzheimer’s disease will reach 70,000 by 2031 (from 28,000 in 2006).Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, nor any proven ways to prevent its onset. Treatment focuses on support and managing symptoms to maximize a person’s ability to function and maintain independence for as long as possible. The condition is ultimately fatal.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
In Alzheimer’s disease, brain cells start to deteriorate. The body attempts to stop this process by producing a protein called amyloid. However, amyloid deposits build up in the brain, leading to further deterioration. These deposits of amyloid are referred to as “plaques” and cause the brain cells to shrivel up and form “tangles”, which in turn lead to changes in the brain structure and cause the brain cells to die. The formation of plaques and tangles also prevents the production of some important brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters (eg: acetylcholine, which is important in memory function). Over time the loss of brain cells causes the brain to shrink.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
While there is no known cause for Alzheimer’s disease, some research studies have indicated that the following factors may play an important role in the development of the condition:Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s Essay
Genetic factors, such as the presence of, or changes to, certain genes
Environmental factors, such as long-term exposure to some environmental solvents (eg: pesticides, glues and paints) or infection with certain viruses or bacteria
Lifestyle factors, such as a lack of exercise, poor-quality sleep and a diet lacking fruit and vegetables.
Researchers now believe that a combination of these lifestyle, environmental and genetic risk factors trigger an abnormal biological process in the brain that, over decades, results in Alzheimer-type dementia. Identified risk factors for developing the condition include:
History of a head injury
Risk factors for blood vessel disease such as smoking
Family history of Alzheimer’s disease
High blood pressure
There is some evidence of a slightly higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in females than males, but this may reflect their longer life expectancy.
Signs and symptoms
The degenerative changes that occur with Alzheimer’s disease affect the areas of the brain that control thought, memory and language resulting in gradual signs and symptoms related to a person’s behaviour and mental function. Often, physical functions such as bowel and bladder control are also affected.Ways of Preventing Alzheimer’s
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