More than a ‘senior moment’: Alzheimer’s is a fatal diseaseFrom Spotlight on Health - Summer 2010
Imagine that everyone in Minnesota has Alzheimer’s disease. That’s more than 5 million people… and that is how many Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s today. The number is expected to grow to 16 million Americans by 2050.
Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and problems with thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies and social life. It is the most common form of dementia, and accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but treatments for symptoms, combined with services and support, can make life better for people living with Alzheimer’s.
Deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have risen by 47 percent in the past decade. It is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, following heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents and diabetes.
If you are concerned that a loved one may be developing dementia, contact a health professional, who can evaluate symptoms of memory loss or confusion.
CentraCare Health System offers services for people with Alzheimer’s disease in Long Prairie, Melrose, Monticello and St. Cloud.
Learn more about services for Seniors
7 ways to keep your mind sharp
- Volunteer: Be a tour guide at a library, museum or hospital. New neural pathways are formed in your brain when you learn new facts and think on your feet.
- Listen up: TV can dull brain transmissions, so enjoy your favorite music or talk radio instead.
- Hit the books: Research shows that taking classes reduces your dementia risks. Book readings, seminars and music lessons are other great options.
- Sprechen sie Deutsch? Learning a new language boosts the verbal, language and memory parts of the brain.
- Current events: Read a newspaper and talk about news with friends and family. This type of socializing can activate multiple parts of your brain and encourage cell growth.
- Play games: Board games and puzzles stimulate strategic, spatial and memory parts of the brain.
- Chit chat: Talking not only gets you out of your rut, but socializing also can reduce potentially memory-sapping depression.
Take your brain health to heart
To keep your body fit and to reduce your risk factors of developing dementia:
- Eat right. A study of 1,500 adults found that those who were obese in middle age were twice as likely to develop dementia later in life. Those who also had high cholesterol and high blood pressure had six times the risk of dementia. Reduce your fat and salt intake.
- Get moving. Walking or doing other moderate exercise for 30 minutes each day gets the heart pumping.
- Put it out. Smoking interferes with blood flow and oxygen to the brain. It’s a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.