Doing This Every Day Raises Your Alzheimer's Risk, Study Says
Many of us have known someone affected by the brain disorder known as Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately, that number is growing. By the year 2025, Alzheimer's cases are projected to rise more than 12% in the United States. That's because the No. 1 risk factor for Alzheimer's is aging, and many Americans are simply living longer. The disease is progressive and currently has no cure. But it's important to recognize the early signs of Alzheimer's in yourself or people close to you, so its progression can be slowed if possible. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
What is Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of conditions that involve changes to memory, thinking, and judgment that ultimately interfere with a person's ability to function. About 5.8 million people are living with Alzheimer's in the U.S. today.
Most cases are diagnosed in people older than 65, and Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. Alzheimer's currently has no cure. But a drug called aducanumab (brand name Aduhelm) may slow cognitive decline.
That's why it's important to be alert to early signs of Alzheimer's, so its progress can be slowed if possible.
One Frequently Seen Sign of Alzheimer's
"Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer's disease," says the National Institute on Aging.
Not all memory problems are indicative of Alzheimer's. Some forgetfulness is normal with aging. But memory trouble with these characteristics may be cause for concern:
- Forgetting recently learned information or events, such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours earlier
- Forgetting important dates
- Asking the same questions repeatedly
- Increasingly relying on memory aids (like notes) and family members
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How This Differs From Normal Aging
The kind of forgetfulness that may signify Alzheimer's is more severe or frequent than forgetfulness that may happen with normal aging. It's normal to occasionally forget where you put your keys. But if you often have trouble retracing your steps to find them, it could be a sign of dementia.
Other Symptoms of Alzheimer's
Experts say other warning signs of Alzheimer's can include:
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Confusion about time or place
- Problems with balance or coordination
- Social withdrawal or changes in mood or personality
One Way to Stave Off Alzheimer's
According to a study published last July in the journal Neurology, mentally stimulating activities that involve seeking or processing information (such as reading, writing letters, playing cards or board games, and doing puzzles) may delay the onset of dementia in older people.
Scientists tracked 1,903 people (average age 80) for up to 22 years. Over time, 457 developed Alzheimer's. That occurred on average at age 94 for people who did the most brain-stimulating activities later in life, compared to age 89 for who did the fewest. "It's never too late to start doing the kinds of inexpensive, accessible activities" mentioned in the study, the scientists wrote, "even in your 80s." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.