In the United States, the average life expectancy has now reached 78.7 years, meaning there are plenty of folks living well into their 90s. However, living longer means more people may suffer from what is perhaps the greatest threat to older Americans – Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s causes a decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills, which can make daily life and living independently difficult and dangerous. The good news is scientists are working hard to find a cure for the brain disease and there are ways to fight back against Alzheimer’s. Following are a number of steps older adults can take.
1.Create a baseline. Since early-onset familial Alzheimer’s is an inherited genetic disorder, it’s important to create a cognitive baseline. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends writing down symptoms of memory loss or other cognitive difficulties and sharing the information with a doctor. And, because no single test can confirm Alzheimer’s disease, getting a diagnosis – especially for early onset – may require a medical exam, cognitive tests, a neurological exam and/or brain imaging.
2.Enroll in personal brain training. Since the brain is capable of change at any age, customized brain training programs can be incredibly effective in strengthening weak brain skills in seniors. Kevin Pasqua, owner and executive director of LearningRx in Brookfield, says older adults can improve their short-term memory through daily exercises. Short-term memory is one of the first brain skills to be affected by Alzheimer’s so recovering some of that ability can have a significant impact on quality of life for both the person with the disease and family members.
3.Increase omega-3 fatty acids. Initial research indicates that a high intake of omega-3s may reduce the risk of dementia or cognitive decline.
4.Exercise regularly. Studies show that even moderate exercise may decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and/or change its course once the disease begins to develop.
5.Manage diabetes. Research seems to indicate that people with diabetes – especially type 2 – have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The keys to effective diabetes management include healthy eating, exercise, taking prescribed medications on schedule and monitoring blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.
6.Raise funds for Alzheimer’s research. There are countless ways to help raise funds. Search the Alzheimer’s Association’s website, alz.org, for a local “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” or sign up for a credit card that donates a portion of purchases to an Alzheimer’s charity.
LearningRx brain training can help anyone – from 5 to 85 – increase the speed, power or function of their brain. The program’s game-like exercises and 1:1 trainer-to-client ratios provide guaranteed dramatic improvement in as little as 12 to 24 weeks.
To learn more, visit the free LearningRx Open House on Saturday, May 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 21075 Swenson Dr., Waukesha. Learn more about brain training, test your cognitive skills, play brain games and meet LearningRx trainers.
For information about LearningRx Brookfield, call 262-395-2250 or visit learningrx.com/milwaukee-brookfield.
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