Sunday, June 4, 2017 by Carol B. Amos

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive and fatal disease that gradually damages nerve cells in the brain and the connections between nerve cells. These nerve cells eventually die. Persons with Alzheimer’s have two abnormal structures in abundance: (1) Amyloid plaques made up of insoluble protein deposits and (2) Neurofibrillary tangles especially in the memory area of the brain. It is not known if these abnormal structures cause or are a product of Alzheimer’s.1 There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.2

            Older African- Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s vs. older whites and older Latinos are one and a half times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s vs. older whites.3 With this high incidence of Alzheimer’s in our community, Canaan must embrace all of our members with Alzheimer’s and reach out and support their caregivers.

            Researchers have found that changes to the brain due to Alzheimer’s may begin 20 or more years before symptoms appear. The brain is initially able to compensate for these changes.4 We need to begin, to do everything we can to reduce our risk. We cannot modify risk factors such as race, age, and genetics but there are plenty of other risk factors we can impact including:

  • Physical exercise5 – physical exercise enhances mental abilities and stops brain shrinkage. Exercise also promotes the formation of new neurons. The Council on Brain Health recommends150 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and strength training at least twice a week.
  • Mental exercise6 – Being socially and mentally active builds a cognitive reserve. Play word games and do puzzles such as those on (
  • Healthy Diet – A heart healthy diet such as one low in saturated fats can reduce your risk.7 Shop the perimeter of the grocery store (produce, fresh meat, fish, poultry, and dairy) and minimize the processed foods (sugar, preservatives, artificial ingredients) in the middle of the store.8 Also during your annual physical, make sure you are consuming enough vitamin B, vitamin D, and folic acid, all of which can cause memory issues if there is a deficiency.9
  • Sleep10 - Adequate sleep (8 hours a night) plays an important role in memory consolidation and restoring brain function.

Let us start now to improve our health and reduce our risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

Contact Carol Amos ([email protected]) for references and more information.

Word Count – 399 words
1,2,3,4,6,7Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2017.
5 Keep Your Brain Young By Staying Fit, Elizabeth Agnvall, AARP Bulletin, September 2016
8,10Unbreakable Brain: Shield Your Brain From Cognitive Decline…For Life!, Will Mitchell, Primal Health, 2015.
9Reversal of Cognitive Decline: A Novel Therapeutic Program, Dale E. Bredesen, Aging, Volume 6, Issue 9, pp 707-717.

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