Alzheimer’s Disease is the most commonly occurring type of dementia, representing approximately 70% of all dementia cases. The disease is characterized by memory loss, as well as a sharp decrease in all cognitive ability. The disorder is progressive, has no known cure, and typically affects those aged 65 and older. Although rare, occasionally the disease does affect someone in their 50’s and even younger. When this occurs, it is known as early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
It is estimated that of the 3 million people per year diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, approximately 5% will experience early onset.
While we aren’t really sure of the cause, an individual with early onset Alzheimer’s disease exhibits the same signs as an older patient, only much earlier in life. These warning signs include:
- difficulty speaking or swallowing
- difficulty following written instructions, such as a recipe
- often misplacing items without the ability to retrace steps to locate them
- getting lost when in a familiar place, such as their own neighborhood or hometown
- losing track of the day, date, time, or year
- significant mood swings, or notable personality changes
- suddenly experiencing vision problems, including depth perception
- retreating from situations they normally enjoyed, such as career or social settings
While someone of any age can have a momentary lapse in one of these areas, a person with early onset Alzheimer’s disease will find these things occurring more and more frequently.
Preventing Early Onset Dementia
The steps to preventing early onset of these diseases are the same as preventing them in general. Although there is no way to guarantee that Alzheimer’s will not occur, there are indicators which seem to show that people with certain behaviors have elevated levels of risk. Some considerations to be aware of include:
- Take Most Fat Out of Your Diet: What you eat and choose to put into your body always has a high correlation with health – or lack of it. A high fat, high calorie diet seems to be one of the precursors to dementia in many people; as is a diet rich in saturated fats, such as those found in red meat. People who indulge in these foods tend to suffer with dementia and Alzheimer’s more often than those who eat less of them. Those who consume Mediterranean diets, which consist of olive oil, legumes, whole grains, chicken and plenty of fish, have less incidence of dementia. Seasonings are encouraged, but watch the level of salt. Obesity also has a high correlation to Alzheimer’s, as high blood pressure is related to the decline of your brain health.
- Up Your Vitamin Intake: Vitamins play a vital role in brain health and wellness, but many people are woefully lacking when it comes to getting enough vitamins into their system. Dietary vitamins are typically considered to be preferable than supplementation, although the latter is better than ignoring the deficiency. Vitamin intakes to watch include B, K, D and iron. A piece of good news for Venice area residents -the higher levels of vitamin D for those who enjoy the sunshine are considered protective of brain health.
- Start Juicing: It seems incredible, but drinking 8 ounces of fruit or vegetable juice 3 times per week reduces your chances of getting Alzheimer’s by 76%! However, this refers to juicing fresh fruit and vegetables at home, not buying sugary fruit juices at the grocery store. A home juicer is therefore a great investment for those looking our for brain health.
- Exercise Your Brain: The phrase “use it or lose it” is especially applicable to brain health. People of all ages should always be learning something new – but for those approaching middle and old age, takin g up crossword puzzles, learning a new language, or even deciding to play a new musical instrument are all great ways to stave off dementia.
Early onset Alzheimer’s disease is rare, but knowing the signs and symptoms – as well as the ways to protect yourself – should give you reassurance that you are doing all you can to live your best life.
If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of dementia and are looking for a safe place to live, check out A Banyan Residence Memory Care Center in Venice. Our professional and compassionate staff is dedicated to the well-being of all of our residents.