According to the Dementia Society of America, more than five million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s. There’s currently no known cure for this disorder, but seniors can make a few lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of sudden memory loss. Here’s a look at five major risk factors for Alzheimer’s and a few steps family caregivers can take to help an aging loved one preserve his or her mental and psychological health.
1. Head Injuries
Quite a few studies are showing there’s most likely a strong link between acute head injuries and Alzheimer’s. Seniors who experience traumatic brain injuries are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Those who have strength or balance issues should speak with their doctors about using mobility aids, such as walkers and canes. If your loved one falls, he or she must immediately schedule an appointment with a doctor for a comprehensive checkup that includes a head MRI.
If you’re concerned about your loved one’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Elderly home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.
2. Long-Term Vitamin B12 Deficiency
One of the reasons vitamin deficiencies are so common among the elderly is because the digestive system becomes inefficient with age. Even if your loved one is following a strict diet, he or she might not be getting enough vitamin B12. Over time, a B12 deficiency can lead to permanent brain damage because the body won’t be able to flush away the plaques that cause Alzheimer’s. This type of deficiency can easily be treated with monthly vitamin B12 shots.
If your loved one isn’t getting the nutrients he or she needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle, a caregiver can help. In Austin, in-home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy.
3. Alcohol & Drug Abuse
Any substance that alters the natural chemicals the body produces can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. As a general rule, seniors should have no more than a few servings of alcohol every week, and all drugs should be avoided unless they have been prescribed by a doctor. Some preliminary studies have shown the use of tobacco products may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s as well.
4. Poor Heart Health
Scientists now know that heart health and brain health are closely intertwined. Seniors who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or any other cardiovascular health conditions should immediately begin making lifestyle changes. Luckily, quite a few of these medical issues can be reversed by changing to a healthier diet, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising for a few hours every week. Older adults must speak with their doctors before starting new exercise routines.
Researchers have found that some genes can directly cause Alzheimer’s, while other genes increase the risk of developing this disease. People can’t change their genes, but those who have family histories of Alzheimer’s should watch carefully for the early warning signs. Seniors who are diagnosed early are often able to minimize some of the worst symptoms. There are also some experimental drugs and therapies that seem to help those who have mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who don’t have experience in providing Alzheimer’s care. Austin Home Care Assistance provides Alzheimer’s care seniors and their families can depend on. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives. For reliable in-home care services, contact us at (512) 623-7800.