Can These Lifestyle Choices, Together, Prevent Alzheimer’s?

Healthy Lifestyle and Alzheimer's
Print icon

As researchers continue investigating new drugs to stop Alzheimer’s disease, two recent studies point to a simplified approach to preventing dementia:

Stop smoking, say no to red meat, exercise at least 150 minutes and restrict alcohol use. That’s a great start. It’s not a cure, say researchers who presented a study at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in July, but their work found that a combination of five lifestyle behaviors could reduce Alzheimer’s risk by 60 percent. A second study found lifestyle changes can reduce risk even for people genetically disposed to the disease.

Previous studies were more tightly focused on the relationships between specific lifestyle actions, such as diet or exercise, on dementia risk. Now, it appears the more lifestyle changes the lower the dementia risk. Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, which presented the report at the Alzheimer’s conference in Los Angeles, tracked more than 2,500 people and these lifestyle factors for close to a decade:

  • Diet
  • Amount of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol intake
  • Cognitive activity

The researchers found that people with the healthiest lifestyles can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by 60 percent. To accomplish that, you’d have to follow a low-fat diet, drink alcohol in moderation, not smoke, exercise at least 150 minutes a week at moderate to vigorous levels and experience late-life cognitive activities liking reading a daily newspaper or playing board games. (All study participants were enrolled in the federally funded Chicago Health and Aging Project or the Rush Memory and Aging Project, each long-term studies that monitor mental decline in aging area residents.)

In the study, the Rush team assigned each participant a numerical credit — 1 for for healthy, 0 for unhealthy – in each lifestyle category. Those who restricted alcohol use to one glass a wine a day received a 1. Those who read a daily newspaper earned a 1. People who totaled a score of 4 or 5, as in following that same number of healthy activities, were those who were 60 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to those with a 0 or 1.

The second study. from the University of Exeter Medical School in England, found that a similar formula of healthy activities also lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s for people with a high genetic risk.

For information about Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging, call the center toll-free at 1.877.4AGING1/1.877.424.4641.

Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging, a not-for-profit member of Hartford HealthCare Senior Services, is a resource and assessment center designed to enhance access to services and information related to attaining optimal quality of life for seniors and their caregivers. For more information about Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging, click here.

 


What's New


Things to Know, What to Do When a Loved One Dies

By Marc Levesque, Senior Resource Case Manager and Jessica Dakin, Provider Relations Liaison from the Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging The death of a loved one is difficult and overwhelming. Experts at the Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging have created a guide to friends and families manage a loved one’s death....


Jefferson House receives national Five Star Quality Rating

Jefferson House, a skilled nursing, outpatient rehabilitation and palliative care community located at 1 John H. Stewart Drive, recently received an overall Five Star Quality Rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Jefferson House has been rated overall Five Star for a number of years, but this year...

Cooled RF

How Cooled Radiofrequency Can Help Osteoarthritis, Back Pain

For people who suffer with chronic knee, hip or back pain, discomfort can affect every aspect of day-to-day living. Going up and down stairs, taking a walk around the block, running errands and even sleeping can be physically painful and emotionally draining. Maybe you’ve suffered for years with knee, hip...