Alzheimer’s Disease on the Rise: Minimize Your Risks

Improving your lifestyle now can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's and other types of dementia in your senior years

One-third of seniors are developing Alzheimer’s, but there are steps you can take to lower your risks

No matter what their ultimate cause of death, 33 per cent of seniors die while suffering from Alzheimer’s disease

I still haven’t completely come to terms with a recent report from the Alzheimer’s Association in the U.S. that a staggering one-third of seniors now die with Alzheimer’s disease.

Read that again: No matter what their ultimate cause of death may be, 33 per cent of seniors who die are suffering with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) at the time of death.

The last time I checked, seniors were still defined as people over the age of 65. That means a terrific number of baby boomers are on their way to developing Alzheimer’s (which is, by itself, a terminal illness for many people).

So, here’s what stands out about this report for me.

Caring for Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

First, it’s really difficult for an economically challenged person like myself to understand how our inappropriately labelled “free” health care system (nothing on this earth is ever truly free, especially not something the government runs) is going to withstand this tsunami about to hit it. After all, the only good news about Alzheimer’s is that it’s slowly progressive in most people, meaning that AD patients can (thankfully) stay alive for a long time during which they require increasing levels of care, generally ending with full-time care for at least a while.

The sad truth is that none of our current batch of AD drugs do very much either to slow AD’s progression or to ameliorate its worst symptoms. Indeed, some of those drugs often make matters worse, but that’s grist for another story.

So, the care and treatment of AD is — and for the foreseeable future will remain — labour-intensive, and labour-intensive health care is very, very expensive.

Risk Factors for Dementia

The second thing that bothers me about this report is that over the last few years, it’s become quite clear that the risk factors for some types of dementia including AD seem to mimic very closely the risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, many cancers and strokes.

Namely: smoking, being significantly overweight, living a sedentary lifestyle, having high blood pressure, and a couple of others that you know very well from all my hectoring about them.

Improve Your Lifestyle 

In other words, if more of us concentrated on living a healthier lifestyle, we would not only protect our hearts but our brains as well.

And although it would obviously be best if everyone started living the healthiest lifestyle possible while they were still in the form of an egg that was just about to mate with some sperm, the fact is that it’s never too late to start to improve one’s lifestyle.

And if more of us did that, then our kids and grandkids wouldn’t have to worry so much about whether there’s going to be enough in the bank to pay for us as we totter into our senior years.

Dr. Art Hister is a medical writer and health analyst for Global TV.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.