Q: I have a history of Alzheimer’s is my family. Will I have it as well? What can I do?
A: According to the Alzheimer’s Association one in eight older Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease. As the mortality age of Americans have increased so has the number of people living with the disease.
The main risk factors for the disease are age, family history and genetics. Still, there are some things you can do to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. Evidence is showing that heart health and brain health are closely linked. By keeping your heart healthy you keep your brain healthy as well. High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol all put you at a greater risk of developing the vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Research is showing that if you keep your body healthy and fit your brain will be as well. Keep weight within the recommended guidelines, don’t use tobacco products, limit alcohol use, stay socially connected and exercise your body and mind. All of these things are vital to your battle against the disease.
If you think you or a loved one might be in the early stages of the disease ask yourself these 10 questions:
- Does the memory loss disrupt daily living?
- Does the person have challenges in planning or solving problems?
- Is he or she having difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or work?
- Is the person confused with it comes to times or dates, or when something is not happening immediately?
- Is it difficult for him or her to understand visual images or spatial relationships?
- Have you noticed problems with using words or when writing?
- Are items often being misplaced and the person is unable to retrace his or her steps?
- Have you noticed decreased or poor judgment?
- Has your loved one stopped doing activities she or he usually enjoys and spends less time with people?
- Have you noticed a change in mood or personality?
Alzheimer’s can be difficult to discern so if you have questions or concerns talk to you doctor. Early diagnosis provides the best opportunity for treatment, support and planning. Tonight Wheaton Studio Movie Grill will have a free showing of them movie The Notebook. Loyola neurologist, Matthew McCoyd, MD, will be available to answer questions. You also can visit the Alzheimer’s Association site for additional resources.
Michael Gill, MD, PhD, has been bringing world-class care to the Wheaton area for 11 years and is the medical director at the Loyola Center for Health located just behind Whole Foods. He is double boarded in internal medicine and pediatrics and is an assistant professor in the departments of medicine and pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.