Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are among the most prevalent and deadly mental health conditions facing the nation – and seniors are far and away the most at-risk population for both.
Consider these facts about seniors, Alzheimer’s and dementia
• More than 10 million Americans currently suffer from some form of dementia, with Alzheimer’s accounting for 50 to 80 percent of all dementia cases (Alzheimer’s Association).
• Global costs of Alzheimer’s care exceed $600 billion every year, and over $172 billion in the U.S. alone (Wall Street Journal).
• There is no cure for dementia, but treatments combined with the proper care and support can improve quality of life for seniors living with these diseases (CDC).
The Top 10 Warning Signs of Coming Dementia:
1. Memory changes that disrupt daily life
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality
Source: Alzheimer’s Association Early Detection Alliance
Research has repeatedly shown that regular mental and physical stimulation are the best ways seniors can prevent the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Exercise for the body keeps core muscle groups working properly, and mental workouts keep nerve receptors in the brain active and alert.
Prevention Strategies for Seniors:
• Exercise Daily – at least 30 minutes per day at moderate intensity
• Eat Healthy – emphasize fruits and vegetables, take vitamins
• Build Up the Brain – set aside time for memorization exercises, puzzles and reading
• Get Plenty of Z’s – restful sleep helps to process, store, and recall information
• Relax, Reduce Stress – studies show lifelong stress can double or quadruple chances of Alzheimer’s
• Kick Unhealthy Habits – smoking and heavy drinking are two well known risk factors that lead to mental health diseases