Today Millennials are considered anyone born between 1981 and 1997 making our ages from mid 20’s up through our late 30’s. But who cares, right? Alzheimer’s Disease can’t touch any of us till we are old and gray, right?
As a generation we focus on memories. With so many technological distractions, any time we can find in the NOW is our win! In a time where Facebook pictures and FOMO start to influence our perceptions of ourselves, memories will be everything in our later years. While we think of Alzheimer’s as an elderly issue, research is showing the disease can start to set its roots almost 25 years before symptoms manifest. That said, the choices you make TODAY will create your outcome TOMORROW.
Hence, the purpose of this blog.
Let’ put our finger on what Alzheimer’s Disease is, identify how to prevent and avoid it and lastly spread the word and fight for the cause! Charge!
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
You may know that Alzheimer’s is a common disease for the elderly. Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and could be as high as 3rd due to under reporting because of social stigmas related to mental health and memory decline. Currently, 47 million people worldwide are living with the disease. This form of dementia is expected to affect 135.5 million people by 2050.
Women are most impacted by the disease in more ways than one. The Shriver Report identifies 65% of cases as female while also noting over 60% of caretakers for those with the disease being women. This disease takes around 6.7 million U.S. Women as caretakers. The mental, emotional and economical cost of this disease is staggering. As if we ladies needed one more obstacle?!
The Alzheimer’s Association states, “Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases” and while most cases manifest in adults over 65 years old, over 200,000 cases a year occur in adults under 65 considered early-onset Alzheimer’s. The devastating memory loss signature to the disease progresses over time. After an average of 8 years with these developing symptoms a loved one loses their battle with the disease. While research continues, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and current treatments are focused on slowing and treating the progression of symptoms.
What do you need to preserve your memories, maintain your health and fight off a disease set to affect 135.5 Million by the time we are in our 60’s? Get your gloves on, let’s fight this!
Focus on a Disease Proof Lifestyle NOW:
Current research out of Loma Linda University’s Alheimer’s Prevention Program lead by Husband-Wife duo “Team Sherzai” estimates that 90% of ALZ cases can be prevented. For the other 10% with strong genetic risk, the disease’s cognitive decline can be delayed 10-15 years. As stated previously, the Alzheimer’s Asocciation states an average of 8 years living with the disease from the time symptoms start, however, life with Alzheimer’s can range anywhere from 4-20 years depending on confounding health factors.
Therefore, current research shows lifestyle to impact not only disease progression but disease prevention as well!
Are you ready to fight, change and grow? Keep reading!
Diet, exercise and lifestyle are predicted as the largest indicators for the disease mainly due to these three components:
Inflammation caused by fatty tissue storage (overweight, obesity)
Saturated fats in the diet (consumption of animal products)
Inactivity (a sedentary lifestyle)
What choices can you make today to help avoid a future with the disease?
Revamp Your Nutrition: Bio factors found in whole food plant sources have been shown to turn on or off gene expressions, reduce inflammation, and improve organ tissue health and processes. A lifestyle gaining most calories from whole food plant based sources will help in reducing intake of animal products, processed/ boxed foods, and sugar infused beverages. Women should also limit alcoholic beverages (research saying 0-1/ day).
Move MORE! Exercise has proven to positively impact body processes and aid in vascular integrity even in your brain! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of activity added up per week. Remember to challenge yourself with periods of moderate to high intensity activity for at least 25% of this. You can use the talk test to gauge your activity level. Walking = low intensity, Jogging while speaking complete sentences = Moderate, Flag Football with route sprinting gasping for breath = High intensity!
Brain Power: Cognitive challenges from leaving your comfort zone with exercise, utilizing problem solving areas of the hippocampus and or having a challenging occupation help improve brain capacity and vascular pathways. Do you problem solve at work? Are you able to leave work at work? Or do you have hobbies? Bonus points if you can share these hobbies with friends for social wellness as well!
Stress Less! Stress Management aids the body and brain in meeting challenges without damaging stress hormones and inflammation. Sleep helps the body recharge and clean house removing damaged cells and creating new ones. What do you have in place to manage stress? What would it take to mix in Meditation, Yoga, or a bubble bath into your week? Also, do you get on average 7+ hours of sleep per night? Yes, naps count!
How can you fight back?
Reading through that lifestyle list, what are you willing to change today?
What areas are you willing to work toward over the next few months and what areas are really not feasible right now?
And more importantly, what areas are you ROCKING already? As with all our successes, focusing on what we are great at can breed more GREATNESS!
Want to help Tackle Alzheimer's?
You can check out the Alzheimer’s Association’s local chapter near you to volunteer, walk at an event or even donate toward the cause! Personally, I became involved with The Alzheimer’s Association through RivALZ a women’s flag football league that has teams in most major cities. My boyfriend even joined this year as a coach to help in the fight! This year our league has raised over $60k towards research and care for those with Alzheimer’s. I can honestly say the women I have met through this initiative have inspired and changed me. It reminds me that this fight will truly take everyone! If you are in the Columbus Ohio Area check out our RivALZ Game 6/23/2018 at the Otterbein Stadium at 4pm!
You can continue your education on the effort and the disease by checking out the resource links below!