Alzheimer's Disease: Just How Vulnerable Are You?


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Americans are absolutely terrified of Alzheimer's disease. A survey revealed it to be the illness that when surveyed, most Americans were afraid of developing. This disease is scarier than diabetes, heart disease, or even cancer.

Why is Alzheimer's so feared?

One good reason to be wary of the illness is that there is no cure. Though researchers are working hard to understand the disease and how it attacks the brain, it's impossible to stop and the damage is irreversible.

There is also the devastating manner in which it seems to strip a person of their individual identity.

It causes you to lose precious memories of life experiences and loved ones. In its most advanced stage, Alzheimer's leaves sufferers without the ability to function on their own.

The growing concern of many Americans over Alzheimer's can be blamed on our aging population. It's projected that as many as 1 in 45 could be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives.

There are certain risk factors that make it more likely that some members of the population will develop Alzheimer's than others.

For instance, do you have a parent or sibling that suffers from Alzheimer's? When one has a close family member that has been diagnosed, it's possible there is a genetic risk of developing the disease. The mutation behind the increased risk is blamed for about 5% of Alzheimer's disease cases. A minuscule number, but still a risk factor to consider.

Past head trauma such as a severe concussion can also raise the risk of developing Alzheimer's. This is one reason why so many NFL athletes and their families have filed lawsuits, as they were unaware of the risks that such a sport played in the development of dementia-type illnesses.

While there are risk factors that make you more vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease, there are also ways that you can potentially lower your risk of developing it.

Constant mental stimulation seems to be the most recommended method of protection against the disease.

This includes reading, regularly solving puzzles like crosswords or Sudoku, taking up learning a musical instrument, or taking the time to get out of the house and regularly socialize.

The key is to keep yourself mentally stimulated and your brain constantly being tested and challenged.

There is no known reason why constant mental stimulation helps stave off the risks of Alzheimer's disease. One theory is that your brain develops cell to cell connections that can protect you from the impact of Alzheimer-related changes.

Alzheimer's disease is scary, but it's still wise to spend time educating yourself about the signs and symptoms. Also take the time to do what you can to become more mentally active and engaged. Such efforts can protect you in the long run.

Image via Wikimedia Commons