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5 Tips For Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

Jul 21, 2013 06:12 PM EDT
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New evidence for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease came out this week at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Boston, which ranges from delaying retirement to drinking coffee and avoiding stress.

A new study of nearly half a million people by Carole Dufouil, a scientist at INSERM, the French government's health research agency, found that those who delayed retirement were less at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia. Dufouil led the study and gave results recently at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Boston. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases. 

"For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2 percent," said Carole Dufouil, a scientist at INSERM, the French government's health research agency.

The study looked at the records of more than 429,000 workers, most of whom were shopkeepers or craftsmen such as bakers and woodworkers. They were 74 on average and had been retired for an average of 12 years.

Overall, doctors and researchers were optimistic on studies done to determine ways to help prevent the disease. "We're understanding the course of the development of Alzheimer's disease much better now," said Steven Arnold, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Memory Center, according to the Associated Press. He went on to note that dementia probably takes decades to develop.

A study published in Neurology earlier this year, estimated the number of people living with Alzheimer's disease is expected to triple by 2050, from 4.7 million patients in 2010 to 13.8 million by 2050. Demenita currently costs the U.S. government $215 million a year or $50,000 a year per patient, according to a study published April 3 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Arnold and Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer's Association, offered some other tips on how to help prevent Alzheimer's disease:

Regular exercise:

Participating in regular exercise has many benefits, and warding off dementia appears to be one of them.  Aerobic activity three times a week for 40 minutes is strongly supported by research. It's important to not only walk leisurely, but to try to break a sweat and get the heart rate up.  

Drink coffee:

Research suggests coffee and caffeine help suppress the increase in amyloid plaques in the brain and inflammation, both of which are characteristic of Alzheimer's. According to a study done in June 2012 by University of South Florida, 3 cups is optimum to help keep dementia at bay.

Keep stress to a minimum:

Too much is not good for the brain. There is increasing evidence that activities like mindfulness meditation and yoga are good for the brain, Arnold noted.

Sleep:

Adults should get anywhere between 7-9 hours of good quality sleep. Doctors recommend not watching T.V. or using the phone or tablet for at least 20 minutes before winding down to sleep as it keeps the brain active for longer.

Keep the mind active:

Regular cognitive activities such as reading, writing, socializing, learning new skills or doing puzzles help keep the mind active.

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