The death rate caused by Alzheimer is increasing. More and more elderly people are afraid of getting Alzheimer or dementia.
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Ron Stewarts: We are cared for coming into this world and often times we are cared for as we live this world. The big question is, how do we keep our mind sharp as we age? Are there steps we can follow now to help prevent ourselves from getting one of the most feared diseases of later life Alzheimer’s disease? Mary Gillon: We know that about every 70 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s. This disease is unfortunately on the rise mostly because people are living longer and mostly because the death rate from other diseases is going down. So fewer death are caused by stroke, cancer, heart disease and so therefore that means that as that death rate goes down the death rate for Alzheimer is increasing. Laura Wayman: We need to learn how to keep our mind sharp. One of the fears – big fears that many seniors have is they actually fear getting an Alzheimer type dementia more than they fear death, because it is such a frightening experience. Female: Ron, how do you describe where you live right now? Ron Mercik: I live in… it’s a long building 50-feet long and all kinds of funny things going on inside. Female: How long have you been coming here? Larry Mart: Oh I don’t know. I have to guess that. Frequently, but I can’t tell you how many months or weeks or years. Female: Tell me about Harry. Elizabeth Kellar: We’ll he’s married and not really married. But he’s got me almost. Female: And he’s your husband? Elizabeth Kellar: Uh-hmm. Ron Stewarts: There are 5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to reach anywhere between 11 and 16 million people by the year 2030. Short-term memory loss and starting to repeat yourself are often early symptoms of the disease. But memory loss doesn’t just happen in our senior years, it can trigger at any age. One of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s occurring in younger people is head trauma; a severe concussion or head accident can impact the brain. Researchers studying the mind at the University of California Davies say there is also a strong connection between a healthy heart and a healthy brain. Dr. Charles DeCarli: What I say to those people who ask me how do I stay sharp, how do I age successfully; the simplest answer is that your body and your brain are tied together. The better we maintain our general health the more likely we are to maintain our mental or cognitive health. Dr. Shawn Kile: Vascular disease increases the risk of the Alzheimer’s disease and when a person has both disease processes present they have a synergistically detrimental effect on the brain. Dr. Michael McCloud: We don’t know precisely what starts the events in our brain that leads to the destruction of brain cells. But we’re getting better at understanding that cascade of events and we’re getting better at understanding who is more susceptible. Interestingly, we’re seeing that the type of problems that make us at risk of stroke and heart attack; that is obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking seem to be the same risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Kelly Spickler: I always joke to them that we’re doing anti-Alzheimer. Exercise all the time; anything that taxes brain in right-left movement, anything that’s challenging in the brain areas. Ron Stewarts: But exercise alone won’t keep us sharp. Researcher says what you eat helps maintain brain health as well, and the diet that’s low in saturated fat is very important. Also age in brain development play a vital role when it comes to cognitive impairment. Dr. Charles DeCarli: Where will we have the biggest impact from the intellectual activity site is in the preschool up until about age 14 or 15 because the brain is very, very plastic. And by that plastic I mean it can shape new pathways until you're about 14 or 15 years old, and then after that it sort of trimming things up. The brain doesn’t actually stop changing and growing until you are in your 30s, but it slows way down. And it seems to me that good early heal