Each year, the entire month of September is set aside to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease. One in every two families must deal with the ramifications of having a loved one diagnosed with the debilitating disease. Though, the rising numbers of the country’s aging population may change that ratio in the future.
While we’re spending time talking about what early warning signs of Alzheimer’s look like, it’s an excellent time to incorporate a few easy habits into your life that might potentially lower the risk of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Remember, this is a progressive, degenerative disease that has no cure.
People who exercise experience a lower rate of Alzheimer’s disease. That’s because regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain and maintains essential neural connections between the brain and body.
That doesn’t mean you have to run out today and join a CrossFit gym. If exercise isn’t already a part of your daily routine, you might want to start small. Of course, you can always build up a grueling workout, but in the meantime, a pleasant 20-minute walk is a great place to start.
Exercise your mind
Another way to put this is “Use it or lose it.” take up crossword puzzles or some other type of word or number game. You’re already working out your body’s muscles; think of this new habit as a regular workout for your brain. If you are not stimulating your brain by challenging it with new and exciting problems, the mind becomes passive and dull.
As the prevalence of the Delta variant continues to grow, you might be thinking of canceling all of your social invitations. But don’t let friendships lapse! Folks who partake in regular social interaction have proven to show a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease. This makes sense when we consider how social interactions can be an obstacle course for the mind. There’s little control over topics, which means that the brain must switch between conversation topics or entertain an entirely foreign one.
To socialize safely, continue to follow the procedures recommended by the CDC.
Alzheimer’s disease has long been related to stress, but a relaxing mindfulness or meditation practice has been demonstrated to decrease or slow the illness’s progression.
If 10 minutes of sitting quietly with your eyes closed daily is too much for you, try a guided meditation on the internet. Incorporate a walking meditation into your everyday walk for an even more subtle approach. This can be as simple as synchronizing your breath to your steps and focusing on the entire foot as it contacts the ground with each step.
Use a hearing aid if you need it
Studies have found potential links between untreated hearing loss and a cognitive load that could lead to dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, making up 60% to 80% of cases.
A simple hearing aid provides sound to the auditory nerve, not allowing it to weaken in disuse. Furthermore, researchers speculate that the stress caused by undiagnosed hearing loss in the form of effortful listening might be an impactful burden. Hearing loss can also inhibit these very Alzheimer-friendly habits listed above!
Get your hearing tested
There is some cause for concern over the relationship between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s, which is why a regular hearing test should be on your calendar. Your brain is a powerful tool, but it needs to be used or clear space for other functions. You cannot simply switch hearing off and expect the rest of your systems, particularly the brain, to function as usual.
The way that hearing occurs is done just as much in the brain as it does in the ears we tend to think of as our entire auditory system. As sound vibrations hit the inner ear, they travel up the auditory nerve and into the brain to translate information into understanding. If this system isn’t activated, it tends to wither.
To schedule a hearing test, contact us today!