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New Tool for Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Risk

The Journal of the American Academy of Neurology explains a new tool for early risk detection of Alzheimer’s disease and some surprising risk factors are cited. “This new risk index could be very important both for research and for people at risk of developing dementia and their families,” said study author, Dr. Deborah E. Barnes.

Barnes explains that early identification of those at high risk can have a significant impact on research studies which use new drugs and other prevention methods. And for people who don’t have Alzheimer’s, but appear to be at high risk, they could be closely monitored and begin treatment at the first sign of the disease for better life quality both for the patient and the family.

The risk index is based on a 15-point scale. People who score eight or more points on the scale are at high risk of developing dementia in the next six years. Several of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, are pretty well known by now. They are older age - sixty five years and up, low scores on tests of thinking skills, and having a gene for the disease.

However, other risk factors for predicting future dementia were more surprising at least to me. Barnes listed them as people: who are underweight, do not drink any alcohol, have had coronary bypass surgery, or are slow at performing physical tasks such as buttoning a shirt.

A total of 56 percent of those with high scores on the index developed dementia, compared to twenty three percent of those with moderate scores and four percent of those with low scores.

What can you learn from this list? That it is vital to live in healthy balance. While our society praises skinny, it is important for older people not to get too thin. A loss of appetite and waning sense of smell are often precursors to the disease years before Alzheimer’s manifests. In addition a little alcohol is good for you. Studies concerning red wine have been encouraging. And to improve activities of daily life – EXERCISE. It is important to strength train to build muscle and bone mass, to do some aerobics and stretch. Then change up your exercise routine to learn another routine. Challenge yourself! Exercise creates new neurons in the brain and enhances synaptic connections. And of course, stimulate your mind and get creative. Last, but not least, manage your stress because it isn’t worth it.
For more information on caregiving read my book, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show





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