An Active Lifestyle Can Ward Off Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease. Few things are more heart-wrenching than to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or to watch a loved one slowly fade away. This past year has been particularly challenging for those suffering from Alzheimer’s due to increased isolation and loneliness caused by the pandemic. Even under the best of circumstances with sufficient financial resources and excellent care and support, Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking for everyone involved. Fortunately, we can help protect ourselves against Alzheimer’s. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Can an Active Lifestyle Help Ward off Alzheimer’s?”, decades of research show that people who engage in an active lifestyle can preserve their cognitive function and prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. To best guard against Alzheimer’s, an active lifestyle should include:
a. Mental stimulation. This can include a variety of mentally engaging activities such as reading books, pursuing higher education, playing cards, doing puzzles or working at a mentally challenging job. As The Wall Street Journal article points out, studies show that people who frequently engage in mentally stimulating activities can “preserve their cognitive function and prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.” In fact, in one study of older adults in a Chicago community, a one point increase (on a 5 point scale) in mentally stimulating activities was associated with a 64% reduction in Alzheimer’s risk.
b. Physical exercise. For physical exercise, researchers favor aerobic exercises like jogging or cycling over anaerobic exercises such as weightlifting. Aerobic exercises increase our heart rate and blood flow to our brain as well as boost our oxygen levels and nutrient supply. The article notes that an analysis of ten studies involving 23,000 participants found that physically active older adults were 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
c. Social engagement. This includes talking, listening and relating to others such as family and friends and participating in social activities through church, clubs or volunteer work. Studies show that older adults who have a larger social network and participate in more social activities have less cognitive decline.
No one wants to be stricken with Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, the lifestyle you choose for yourself can help prevent this from happening to you. Be sure to adopt an active lifestyle to help ward off this devastating disease.
This blog post is written by Brett A. Howell, Certified Elder Law Attorney. The blog is written as a service of The Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm, P.L.L.C. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For a consultation to address specific questions, please call (810) 953-3846.