Hi Ladies. If you’ve read some of my articles, you may remember that my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She died 5 years ago at the age of 77 and caused me to question my own risk. Before you can understand your real risk of contracting Alzheimer’s, let’s define this debilitating condition. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America defines this form of dementia as:“… a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.”
The Mayo Clinic and other health and wellness organizations say Alzheimer’s disease is the most common reason for dementia among people aged 65 and over. I am 62 now and paying attention! My partner’s mom had to be institutionalized because of Alzheimer’s, and it is heartbreaking to walk the halls and see all the people in their various stages. Maybe you’ve had reason to look into it too, but I thought I’d do a short article to summarize the main risks.
What Are the Main Alzheimer’s Risk Factors?
What is the chance that you will personally experience this abnormal condition of aging? Let’s take a look at the main Alzheimer’s risk factors. Also ladies, please do not live in fear even if you have some of these risk factors. We will also take a look at some preventative measures, some things you can do to minimize risks.
- Of all the possible causes for Alzheimer’s, an increase in age is the greatest single factor. It seems that 65 years is the most widely agreed-upon starting point where Alzheimer’s begins to appear consistently. Unfortunately, almost half of everyone above the age of 85 has Alzheimer’s to some degree.
- Your risk of living with Alzheimer’s becomes much stronger if you have a few rare genetic dispositions; and if this is the case, you could begin experiencing symptoms as early as your 30s. This happens in less than 10% of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. If you’d like to read further about early onset AD, here is a good article: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-genetics-fact-sheet
- If a close relative (a brother, sister or parent) has Alzheimer’s, you are at a slightly higher risk than the average person.
- Women seem to experience Alzheimer’s more frequently than men. (This appears to be because women live longer, not because of some genetic predisposition of this affliction to appear in women.)
- If you have experienced severe head trauma on a single occasion, or repeated trauma to your head over time, there seems to be a link to a greater risk of contracting Alzheimer’s.
And if any of the following are part of your current lifestyle or heart health, you are a more likely candidate for Alzheimer’s.
- Abnormally high blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Untreated or poorly controlled diabetes
- A diet which contains few vegetables and fruits
- You smoke
- You get very little physical exercise
- Your homocysteine levels are high
These are the main Alzheimer’s risk factors and there are many more studies in progress. I have a couple of other articles covering this topic: My Mom Had Dementia Will I? and My Mother Had a Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.
There are Actions You Can Take to Minimize the Risk Factors
Take a deep breath ladies! I know this is a hard topic to delve into, but there is some good news in the midst of it all. Multiple studies reported by learning institutions and medical facilities around the world show that if you have a stimulating job or higher level of formal education, your Alzheimer’s risk is lower. If you frequently benefit from social interaction and are constantly challenging your mind, your risk also drops. When you eat lots of vegetables and fruits, drink plenty of water daily, and exercise your body, your Alzheimer’s risk drops even further still.
Please do not take these practices lightly. We’ve heard them many times before and have made the choice to implement them or ignore them. Please make them part of your life (challenge your mind, interact socially, eat healthy, drink plenty of water and exercise). They will reduce your risk and you will…..
Further reading for healthy practices: