Alzheimer’s. A dreaded word in every family. Who doesn’t know of someone affected by this terrible affliction? Over four million Americans are affected, and twice that number worldwide.
What is the cause of Alzheimer’s disease? Is it inevitable for some unfortunate souls? Has it always been this way? Is there anything we can do to prevent or avoid it? Let’s consider what the “experts” say, then see what else may be helpful.
Some of the common risk factors listed by representative authorities are Age, Gender, Family history, and Cardiovascular disease. Although some genetically-linked occurrences begin at younger age, the typical age at onset is 65 years or older. By age 85, as many as half the population may be afflicted. More women than men are affected, although it is not clear how that compares with the greater longevity of women. Some families have a number of members affected, but it has not been well defined how many are the result of genetics and how many occur because they live in the same environment. The cardiovascular factor is the focal point for a number of environmentally related items: smoking, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, diabetes, high homocysteine levels; all of these can be influenced by appropriate attention.
Some lesser factors mentioned are head injury, small head size, low economic level, low education, alcohol use, hormones, stress, and depression. Living in a rural area and having less than six years education has also been mentioned.
I need to do more research on the history of Alzheimer’s. I have the impression that this is a growing problem in the same sense that autism is – relatively unknown some time ago, but growing worse now. If you have a reference that answers that, please let me know; I would appreciate the support.
Are we doomed to Alzheimer’s? Are certain individuals destined to be affected as they grow older and others sure to be kept free? I doubt that anyone can answer that question now; certainly I can not. But I can share my opinion that Alzheimer’s is a form of unwellness. Although I can not diagnose nor treat – much less heal – disease, I can do much to maintain my personal wellness.
One of my sources, The Alzheimer's Association, lists a number of actions that one can take to minimize the risk factors for the disease. Details are available at http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_causes_risk_factors.asp,
with specific steps to support Brain Health at http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_brain_health_maintain_your_brain.asp
I consider prevention of Alzheimer’s to fall within the general heading of maintenance of wellness. If I do all that I know to do to guard against diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, and other bodily ailments, I believe that I am also doing much to guard against Alzheimer’s disease as well. Wellness is wellness; if I am truly well, then I do not have disease of any type, whether brain, bone, or blood. Some basics of my approach to wellness are listed in The Wheel of Wellness. (available at http://www.hopeunlimitedinc.com) I welcome inquiries as to the details of my personal wellness plan, from recovery from cancer to successful aging.
Some helpful references: