Did you know that Alzheimer’s Disease is not a normal part of aging? While age is a contributing factor to the disease, a diagnosis can be attributed to poor health and wellness management and lifestyle choices sustained over long periods of time. The disease is the cumulative effect of choices your make (or do not make) every day of your life. Knowing that cognitive decline is something that can be deferred or even avoided all together is an important aspect to motivate each of us to take our health more seriously. In addition to making the right choices for our health, it’s important to understand that persistence is the key to protecting our cognitive (and physical) health as we age. And it’s really never too late to start making the right changes.
Factors That May Increase Your Risk
There is no single lifestyle issue that has been proven to cause Alzheimer’s disease, but clinical research studies around the world have evaluated common characteristics between individuals who have been diagnosed with the disease. For Type I and Type II diabetics, poorly controlled glucose is known to damage cognitive abilities. There is some statistic evidence that demonstrates high blood sugar as a precursor to developing Alzheimer’s in both men and women.
Cigarette smoking is also statistically correlated as a possible factor in cognitive decline. The University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital conducted a study of 21,123 members within their healthcare system who were between the ages of fifty to sixty years. The mean age of the participants was 71.6 years and they were evaluated between the years 1978 to 1985 with follow up study in 2008. The study reported that for individuals who smoked on average about two packs of cigarettes per day, the following number developed cognitive decline:
It is important to note that the study evaluated individuals who smoked two packs per day during their middle aged life (approximately thirties and forties). Individuals who quit smoking in the midlife years did not show the same prevalence of cognitive decline; quitting demonstrated a significant health benefit.
Other factors that can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia include:
Lowering Your Risk
If you think that your current lifestyle places you at risk for developing dementia or other cognitive impairments that will impact the quality of your senior life, there is no time like the present to begin to make healthy changes.
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