Alzheimer’s, early warning signs and lifestyle changes

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects more than 35 million people worldwide. Due to aging populations, the number of patients is expected to double every 20 years, according to WHO. At the moment, there is no treatment to cure it. So research is trying to explore new avenues today: detecting the signs and the disease upstream and especially changing its lifestyle to reduce its progression.

The 10 Warning Signs

Although they are not necessarily linked to Alzheimer’s disease, some signs need to alert.

1 – LOSS OF MEMORY

The person forgets more and more often recent events affecting his personal life and his entourage but keeps a very good memory of the old memories. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss, including forgetting recently learned information. It can also include forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over again, and having more and more reminders (eg, reminder notes or electronic devices). or using family members for things that people used to manage themselves.

2 – DIFFICULTIES TO PERFORM DAILY TASKS

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or use numbers. They may have trouble following a recipe they are familiar with or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take a lot longer than before to do certain things. 
People with Alzheimer’s disease often have trouble performing daily tasks. Sometimes they may have difficulty driving to a place they know well, managing a budget at work, or remembering the rules of their favorite game.

3 – LANGUAGE PROBLEMS

The person no longer finds simple, usual words and uses others more or less appropriate. 
People with Alzheimer’s disease may have difficulty following or joining a conversation. They can stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue it or repeat themselves. They may have difficulty with the vocabulary, find it difficult to find the right word or call things by the wrong name (eg call a “watch” a “handle clock”).

4 – DISORIENTATION IN TIME AND SPACE

The direction of the person’s orientation decreases. It can get lost, even in familiar places, and confuse the seasons. People with Alzheimer’s disease may lose the notion of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it does not happen immediately. They can sometimes forget where they are and how they arrived there. 
For some people, having vision problems can be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. They may have difficulty reading, assessing distances, and determining colors or contrasts. In terms of perception, they can walk past a mirror and think that someone else is in the room. They may not recognize themselves in the mirror.

5 – DIFFICULTIES IN ABSTRACT REASONING

The person has difficulties to carry out the administrative formalities, to manage his finances (especially from euros), to write a check, to call someone on the phone.

6 – LOSS OF OBJECTS

The person tends to place objects in unusual places (a watch in the oven) without ever finding them. People with Alzheimer’s disease can store items in unusual places. They can lose things and be unable to retrace their steps to find them. Sometimes they can blame others for stealing them. This can happen more frequently over time.

7 – ALTERATION OF JUDGMENT

The person can no longer assess the situation: she wears winter clothes in the summer, makes excessive purchases of food … People with Alzheimer’s disease may experience changes in their judgment or decision-making. For example, they may show diminished judgment in their relationship with money and give astronomical sums to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to the toilet or maintaining their personal hygiene.

8 – MODIFICATION OF BEHAVIOR

The entourage notes the appearance of a depressive tendency in the person or of manifestations of anxiety, irritability, agitation … The state of mind and the personality of people with Alzheimer’s disease can change . They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They can be easily upset at home, at work, at friends’ homes or in places outside of their comfort zone.

9 – LOSS OF MOTIVATION

Motivation falls for all activities, including those that were a passion before

10 – CHANGE OF PERSONALITY

The person becomes completely different from what he was and loses his own character: jealousy, obsessive ideas of prejudice, excessive exuberance …

Changes in lifestyle to limit the progression of Alzheimer’s:

Age is, of course, an important risk factor, but several recent observations indicate that Alzheimer’s disease is not an inevitable consequence of aging, and that many aspects of lifestyle can also greatly influence its progression. This is great news because it means that you can significantly reduce the risk of suffering from this disease by changing your lifestyle. Thus, a new expertise has recently been published with an update of the main factors that may reduce the risk of developing dementia in general, including Alzheimer’s disease.
1.Stop smoking. Smoking has a catastrophic effect on cardiovascular health, which causes a decrease in oxygen supply to the brain and damages neurons. Some neurotoxins in tobacco also contribute to this damage. 
2. Exercise. Physical activity exerts a neuroprotective action due to an improvement of blood circulation in the brain as well as by stimulating the growth of neurons involved in memory processes. 
3. Maintain a healthy weight. Several studies show that obese people are at higher risk for dementia, a consequence of the negative impact of overweight on chronic inflammation and oxidative stress that disrupts the entire body, including the brain.
4. Check the blood pressure. Hypertension creates mechanical stress on the blood vessels that increases the risk of neurodegeneration and, therefore, dementia. 
5. Check the blood glucose. People with diabetes are at higher risk of dementia because chronic hyperglycemia is very toxic to cells, including neurons. 
6. Treat depressions. Depression affects the levels of several stress hormones as well as the structure of certain parts of the brain (hippocampus), which could accelerate the development of dementias.
7. Maintain a social network. Social isolation and soli¬ tude are important risk factors for hypertension, cardiovascular disease and depression, three conditions that have been associated with the development of dementias. 
8. Continue to learn. Education creates what is called a “cognitive reserve” that maintains brain function despite a deterioration of neurons.
9. Make sure you hear well. This may seem surprising, but several studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between deafness and the risk of dementia. The mechanisms involved remain poorly understood, but it is likely that hearing stimulates intellectual functions and thus delays the deterioration of neurons. According to researchers, the use of hearing aids by people who do not hear well could help reduce this risk.

It should be noted that this reduction in dementia using the lifestyle factors just listed is a minimum as well as a healthy diet and consumption of certain foods such as turmeric, red wine, cocoa or green tea is associated with an even greater decrease in the risk of cognitive decline and the inclusion of these foods in dietary habits may further increase our protection against dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Source / oms, World Health Journal, France Alzheim

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