US-based financial advisers recently rated* running into health problems as their baby boomer clients’ biggest concern – with dementia being top of the list. This has been reinforced by Dr William Reichmann - a global leader in research on aging who talks about how Alzheimer’s is becoming the number one concern for baby boomers in their 50s and 60s. He relates it to what cancer was for their grandparents and what heart disease was for their parents.
Alzheimer’s is the number one cause of dementia, with no prevention or cure. As the population ages, the number of Alzheimer’s sufferers in NZ will increase exponentially. Dr Reichmann did identify four things that if started in middle life can reduce the risk of encountering Alzheimer’s.
- Physical exercise: Reichmann pointed to research that six months of moderate physical exercise alters brain activity and produces significant improvements in cognitive functioning.
- Nutritional choices: Reichmann talked about research shows that diets associated with lower levels of heart disease also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. One example is a diet emphasizing antioxidant foods such as berries, raisins, tomatoes and leafy green vegetables. Also in this category is the Mediterranean diet with its focus on cold water fish, vegetables and olive oil, which also avoids animal fats. On vitamins and dietary supplements, Reichman said there is no evidence for these unless a deficiency is identified.
- Cognitive exercises: Participate in activities or work that involves memory, reasoning and processing speed. In other words, keep your mind active and engaged.
- Lifestyle decisions: Reduce your stress level; increase the complexity of your work; gain exposure to new situations; boost recreational activity; and be socially engaged.
Give your health professional a call if you have any concerns about Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
*FPA conference 2017