How to prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Clinical news

Nobody knows how Alzheimer’s disease starts, or what exactly causes it. But there is a growing body of evidence about what the risk factors are, and what you can do to look after yourself better and perhaps stave off the possibility that you will fall victim to it. 

 

Yoram Barak, the recently-appointed Associate Professor of Psychogeriatrics at the Dunedin Psychological Medicine Department of the Otago University School of Medicine, shared his knowledge of Alzheimer’s prevention with an audience at Parliament recently. 

Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more prevalent in our populations, and it has reached epidemic proportions, with no cure on the horizon. One in eight people over 65 already have it, whether or not it is diagnosed. By the time our grandchildren are 65, one in three will have it. In 2050, one in three New Zealanders will be 65 or older. In the past 30 years, not a single new molecule to treat Alzheimer’s has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), despite billions spent by big pharma on it every year. This is a grim picture, but Yoram says there is hope. 

The first prevention you can do is to sleep well. At night, your brain replays the day’s memories, helping your neurons to wire and fire together. As GPs know, sleeping problems are common patient issues, and helping people learn how to relax and sleep better is important not only for them to feel good, but to reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s. 

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