Alzheimer’s Awareness Month: Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a cause of dementia accounting for up to 80% of cases, it is a degenerative disease of the brain, meaning over time symptoms worsen, with many eventually needing round-the-clock care and support. The disease mainly affects the older population; however, scientists have found Alzheimer’s likely starts many years before the symptoms, which can be as early as 30 years before. Therefore, there is a growing focus on possible interventions that might delay or prevent the disease through diet and lifestyle changes. With it being World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, in this week’s blog, we will be exploring and looking at the current research on the disease.


A Focus on Prevention

The role of Vitamin E has been linked to disease prevention due to it serving multiple essential functions including cell protection, brain support, and inflammation reduction. Further research is needed to fully understand the extent of its impact on Alzheimer’s prevention, but it is currently suggested it is best taken through the diet as there is very limited evidence to support supplements. Vitamin E can be found in vegetable oils, grains, nuts, and seeds.

It is also suggested that there is a link between low physical activity, a high-fat diet, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking which could also increase the risk.


Potential Treatment

Unfortunately, scientists are yet to find a cure, but they are beginning to have some understanding of treatments to ensure those affected can get the best quality of life.

One study identifies three lifestyle factors which can potentially slow the rate of decline:


The Importance of a Social Integrated Network

There are increased studies looking at the links between isolation and cognitive decline. Maintaining social connections and engaging in regular social activities have been shown to be crucial for cognitive health and overall well-being. Particularly in the elderly, it has been found those with no social connections are more likely to experience cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s than those who do.

Social interaction and engagement have a protective effect on the brain, as they stimulate cognitive functions, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving. Regular social interactions can also reduce stress levels, which in turn helps to protect the brain from harmful effects associated with chronic stress. Encouraging participation in social activities, clubs, support groups, or volunteering can be beneficial in reducing the risk of cognitive decline and improving overall mental health in older adults.


Cognitive Leisure Activity

These are activities which require a high level of thinking to ensure skills such as memory, problem-solving and focus can be developed and maintained. One study suggests art can help those with Alzheimer’s disease. It is suggested that although there is a decline in cognitive function, the experience and preservation of emotional functions are enhanced. Engaging in activities which stimulate emotions, activate, and use different brain regions which may help slow down cognitive decline. The activities in general are also enjoyable and can promote overall wellbeing.

Art forms such as arts and crafts, dance, drama, and music can also help communicate and express emotions and memories which the person may otherwise struggle with verbally. Also, these activities can be enjoyed in a social setting, adding to the benefits gained.


Regular Physical Activity.

This has been regarded as one of the best ways to reduce the risk of dementia. A recent study found exercise produces and releases a certain hormone which may have potential benefits in protecting and shielding the brain from damage and deterioration associated with conditions like Alzheimer’s. Exercise can also help general health, improving blood sugar levels, fitness, and mood.





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