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Seniors can take steps to lower Alzheimer's risk

January 8, 2013

Combating the growing threat of Alzheimer's disease remains one of the greatest concerns of senior health experts. In fact, a report released in 2012 from the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the number of dementia cases could double by 2030 and triple by 2050 if no cure is found. While there is pressure on the medical community to find effective treatments for the condition, older adults can take steps to reduce their own Alzheimer's risk, many of which are related to healthy aging.

Most seniors recognize that physical activity offers benefits including a lower risk of heart disease and improved mobility, but a growing amount of research suggests it could also play a vital role in preventing Alzheimer's. A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh found that older adults who regularly participated in aerobic activity enjoyed growth in the area of the brain associated with memory.

"The old view is that as we get older our brains become less malleable and less able to change," Dr. Kirk Erickson told WebMD. "The new view is that it remains plastic even very late in life. We were able to show positive change after just one year of moderate-intensity physical activity."

Along with exercise, nutrition may help seniors lower their risk of developing Alzheimer's or dementia. Many foods have been touted as so-called "superfoods" for the brain over the years, but experts say that berries may be the real deal. Researchers from Harvard recently found that women who ate more blueberries and strawberries had less cognitive decline than those who didn't, according to ABC News.

Most of all, it's important that seniors stay mentally stimulated. Luckily, this can be done in a number of different ways. Continuing education, volunteering and even just social engagement can help maintain brain function.