Alzheimer's rate expected to increase
The number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are expected to drastically increase by the year 2030 as life expectancy also increases, according to a statement issued by the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI). The cost of resources to meet the needs of people living with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated at $315 each year.
Currently it is estimated that over 35 million people around the world live with dementia, representing a 10% increase since 2005. In the 2009 World Alzheimer Report, the ADI forecasts this number to double to almost 66 million in the next 20 years.
Dementia is defined as a chronic, progressive global deterioration in memory, learning, orientation, language, comprehension and judgment. Risk factors that lead to cognitive decline include age, family history, genetics, chronic disease states such as depression and hypothyroidism, and head injury.
Federal spending in the United States is lower than that of other disease states, according to the chief executive officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, and there is not a national plan in place that deals with long-term care for people with dementia.
Recent research has focused on lifestyle changes early in life to help prevent or delay the onset of disease. For example, research has shown that by quitting smoking before the age of 65, a person can reduce his risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 79%. Obesity and diabetes at least double the risk of developing dementia and chronic stress may increase risk by 4 times.
In a recent review of literature from the International Journal of Clinical Practice, scientists documented that daily physical activity reduces the probability of Alzheimer’s disease. The recommendation is to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day can reduce risk by 35% and, for those that already show signs of damage to brain tissue, moderate cardiovascular exercise can slow further injury. Resistance training is also beneficial to the maintenance of cognitive health.
Healthy eating is another preventative effort against the development of Alzheimer’s dementia. Chronic inflammation and insulin resistance injures brain neurons and inhibits communication between brain cells. Elevated cholesterol is another factor that increases risk of developing forms of dementia. A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids, such as that found in the Mediterranean diet, has been shown preventative against disease.
The reduction of stress and improving sleep patterns are restorative to brain cells and the central nervous system. In particular, the stress hormone cortisol hampers nerve cell growth and can accelerate cognitive decline and premature aging.
Currently, there is no proven way to completely prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease; however employing lifestyle factors to reduce chronic illnesses and improve overall health can reduce the risk of injury to brain and nerve cells that lead to chronic dementia.
Reference: Alzheimer's Association
Written by Denise Reynolds RD
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