There is nothing more difficult than to watch someone who was once very intelligent and sharp slowly descend into a helpless person who does not remember your name. Almost everyone has witnessed at least one family member or friend suffer the effects of Alzheimer's disease. There are several factors that could contribute to the development of Alzheimer's.
If someone in your immediate family such as a parent or sibling has developed Alzheimer's, you run a higher risk of developing the disease as well. However, according to the BrightFocus Foundation, this genetic connection is still not fully understood and genetic indicators are often very complex. While scientists have pinpointed a mutation in three genes that are markers of Alzheimer's Disease, less than one percent of people in the world have these mutations. Additionally, a variation of the E gene, or APOE, can increase the risk. With that said, not everyone with this gene variation develops the disease. At this point in time, there is no definitive answer as to whether or not this disease will be inherited from parents to children or from sibling to sibling. While there is a higher risk, Alzheimer's can also skip generations.
According to Abels & Annes, having multiple head injuries is very dangerous and can have long-lasting effects and may be a factor in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Severe and/or repeated head injuries can result in the formation of plaque deposits in the brain—which are linked to the onset of Alzheimer's or dementia. Education also plays a role in warding off Alzheimer's disease. Research has revealed a connection between access to formal education and a reduced likelihood of disease. You can help protect yourself by developing an attitude of constant life-long learning and keeping your brain active. Mental health also plays a key role in your risk. Individuals who have suffered episodes of depression in the past, particularly in later years, are also more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's. It is imperative that you and your loved ones get the emotional support and therapy you need in order to effectively manage mental health.
Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and other unhealthy habits such as a sedentary lifestyle can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes. In turn, all of these conditions increase your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later on. According to HelpGuide, staying active through regular exercise and eating a variety of nutritious foods with healthy fats and oils will lower your risk for a myriad of diseases, including Alzheimer's.
While there is really no way for you to know whether or not you will develop Alzheimer's, there is a lot you and your loved ones can do right now to lower your risk. Adopt a healthy lifestyle, continue to learn new things and keep a positive mental attitude. Not only will you lower your risk for many conditions including Alzheimer's, but you will live a more well-rounded and happy life as well.
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