More than 6 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s. In fact, this condition kills more people than prostate and breast cancer do combined.
The number of Alzheimer’s and dementia deaths increased by 16% during the pandemic, too.
Despite the growing prevalence of this condition, not many people know if they’re at risk.
Keep reading to discover the top risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Determining if you’re at risk can help you make lifestyle choices that might benefit your mental health. Though Alzheimer’s is incurable, making changes now might help in the future.
Read on to discover the top Alzheimer’s disease risk factors today.
The number of people who have Alzheimer’s disease could grow to 13.8 million by 2060. In fact, it’s the fifth-leading cause of death among Americans age 65 and older.
Alzheimer’s isn’t a normal part of growing older. Unfortunately, aging could increase your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
In fact, one in every nine people over the age of 65 has this condition. Meanwhile, one in every three people over 85 has Alzheimer’s.
With that in mind, it’s important to consider the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease as early as possible. If these causes of Alzheimer’s disease sound familiar, you can start making changes to your lifestyle. If you start experiencing symptoms, you can even seek help before your condition gets worse.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Recognizing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can ensure you get help for yourself or a loved one as soon as possible. As you get older, you might experience symptoms like:
- Trouble with tasks you’re familiar completing on your own
- Decreased judgment
- Decreased personal hygiene
- Memory loss (which can affect daily activities, such as keeping your appointments)
- Withdrawal from family, friends, and your community
- Issues problem-solving
- Trouble with writing or speech
As the condition progresses, your symptoms can change.
For example, you might get an early diagnosis based on your family history. At stage 1, you likely won’t experience symptoms.
In stage 2, however, you might experience symptoms like forgetfulness.
With stage 3, you can experience mild physical and mental impairments. For example, you might experience difficulty concentrating or decreased memory. Someone close to your might recognize you’re experiencing issues.
Alzheimer’s disease often isn’t diagnosed until stage 4. At stage 4, you might experience an inability to perform daily tasks. Your memory loss will become more evident, too.
At stage 5, you might develop moderate to severe symptoms. Some people need help from a loved one or caregiver at this stage.
At stage 6, you might need help completing daily tasks. For example, a caregiver might need to help you put on clothes. Some people need help cooking and eating, too.
Stage 7 is the most severe stage of Alzheimer’s. It’s also the final stage.
Some people lose the ability to speak or maintain facial expressions at this stage.
Remember, age is one of the most common Alzheimer’s disease risk factors. However, these symptoms can impact people in their 40s and 50s, too. These cases are called early- or younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
You can explore this article to learn more.
Symptoms can include mild memory loss, difficulty finishing tasks, or trouble concentrating. You might lose track of time or struggle to use your words.
If these symptoms sound familiar, seek help.
Gender might increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, too.
In fact, women are 1.5 to 3 times more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Their chances of developing Alzheimer’s can increase after menopause, too.
There are two classes of genes related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Deterministic genes guarantee that patients will develop Alzheimer’s if they live long enough. Most of these patients develop the disease between their 30s and 50s.
If you have risk genes, however, you may or may not develop the disease.
In both cases, you’re more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who don’t have the gene.
This gene is called apolipoprotein E-e4.
Head Trauma and Brain Abnormalities
If you’ve sustained a serious head injury, your risk of Alzheimer’s could increase.
Your risk could continue to increase if your injury caused you to lose consciousness, too. Contact sports or abuse could cause you to develop multiple head injuries. Your risk could increase every further as a result.
As you explore different causes of Alzheimer’s disease, consider your brain health.
For example, the presence of tiny clumps of protein (plaque) could indicate you’re at risk. Tangles, or twisted protein strands, might also increase your risk.
Other indicators that you might develop Alzheimer’s include tissue shrinkage, loss of connection between brain cells, and inflammation. Your doctor can determine if you’re at risk based on these criteria.
One of the most common risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease is your family history. If you have a family member with the disease, you might develop it, too.
If multiple family members have Alzheimer’s, your risk could increase.
Remember, the gene apolipoprotein E-e4 could play a role, too.
Remember, making certain lifestyle changes now could help you avoid certain risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. For example, obesity could increase your risk. You can start losing weight to minimize your risk of this disease.
Otherwise, being overweight could double your risk. If you’re obese (with a body mass index over 30), your risk could triple.
As you start making lifestyle changes to avoid these causes of Alzheimer’s disease, consider changing your diet, too. Otherwise, neglecting to eat fruits and vegetables could increase your risk.
Instead, choose foods that support brain health.
For example, you might want to consider the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, seafood, whole grains, and unsaturated fats.
You can also try the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, which could lower your blood pressure.
High blood pressure is another risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Try foods like:
- Strawberries, blueberries, acai fruit
- Coffee and caffeine
- Leafy green vegetables
- Dark chocolate and cocoa
- Salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, and other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Curcumin (found in turmeric)
You can learn more about improving your diet to minimize your risk of Alzheimer’s.
High Blood Pressure
Remember, high blood pressure might increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. You can learn how to control your high blood pressure by making lifestyle changes.
First, try to lose a little weight. Your blood pressure might increase as your weight increases.
Try to exercise regularly, too. Exercise could help you avoid developing hypertension.
If you already have hypertension, exercising can bring your blood pressure down. Try different forms of exercising, including swimming, walking, or dancing. You can also use strength training to reduce your blood pressure.
Otherwise, make sure to eat a healthy diet. Remember, the DASH diet could help you lower your blood pressure.
Try to minimize how much sodium you consume. Take the time to read food labels. Avoid processed foods, too.
You can also lower your blood pressure by limiting how much alcohol you drink. Try to drink in moderation. Otherwise, drinking too much can cause your blood pressure to rise.
You can also lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by minimizing your stress.
Try to avoid triggers that cause your anxiety to spike. Consider picking up yoga or meditation. Otherwise, use relaxing activities to keep your stress to a minimum.
Smoking might increase your risk of Alzheimer’s as well. As you start making lifestyle changes, try to stop smoking. Remember, you might want to minimize how much you drink, too.
Otherwise, these risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease will only cause your health to deteriorate.
Minimal Physical Activity
Neglecting to exercise could impact your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, too. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
Exercising can help you shed unwanted pounds. Your blood pressure will decrease, too. In fact, your risk of heart disease will also decline.
For example, you can reduce your risk of heart attack, coronary artery disease, and high cholesterol. Your triglyceride levels will decline, too.
You can also use exercise to improve your mental health and mood. Your risk of depression can decline.
Meanwhile, exercising helps the body release proteins and chemicals that improve the function of your brain.
Exercising might even help you relax enough to sleep a little easier.
Minimal Mental Activity
Keep your brain sharp! Otherwise, a lack of mental activity could increase your risk of Alzheimer’s.
Instead, try to find ways to challenge your brain.
For example, you might consider getting a higher education. Otherwise, try taking a few night classes.
Play games and do puzzles. Reading every night can keep your brain active as well.
In fact, social interaction might challenge your brain by helping the brain create internal connections.
Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease: Preparing Your Mental Health
Prioritizing your health now could benefit your brain and body for years to come. Keep these risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease in mind. You can start making lifestyle changes to reduce your risk.
Otherwise, make sure to seek help right away if you begin experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
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