When is the best time to begin the battle to defeat dementia?

Stage-one of Alzheimer’s is the period before the individual shows problems with memory or mental acuity. The process is going on in your brain but neither you, nor anyone else, know it because it isn’t bad enough to show any symptoms. There is no cognitive mental decline because you have enough good neurons continuing to work in order to carry on your everyday activities. Stage one is the time for prevention. Because a medical cure for Alzheimer’s seems unlikely or even impossible, prevention aimed at the asymptomatic individual is the most powerful weapon we presently have against developing Alzheimer’s. Symptoms usually happen after mid-life but being forty to sixty years old is a prime time to focus on the preventive aspect of Alzheimer’s. If you are 40 years old, today is the day of commitment.

If you are older than 40, the process most likely has begun in your brain. There are no symptoms and the diagnosis is called preclinical or pre-symptomatic Alzheimer’s. This stage can begin twenty years prior to any symptoms showing. Some reports say even thirty. The person does not yet have any symptoms of Alzheimer’s but does have some of the early changes of deposits of the excess protein, beta-amyloid, within their brain.

Mid-life is the critical time when the risk factors are defined and compared in the medical studies we’ll review. This significant time period lets you know what road you are on and what destination you are headed for. If you are between 40 and 60 years of age, this is the time to work on avoiding risk factors that could lead to Alzheimer’s. The primary goal is to completely prevent symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The secondary goal is to prevent any progression of symptoms if any are already present. Most of the risk factors that relate to Alzheimer’s are modifiable with lifestyle changes. These preventable risk factors can be present in asymptomatic individuals, decades before cognitive symptoms are expressed.

The Alzheimer’s Association reported a study which lets you know something can be going on inside your brain even before symptoms show. They studied 672 participants who did not have any symptoms of Alzheimer’s. These individuals were followed using a special brain imaging study called MRI, which measures the thickness of different parts of the brain. As the plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s begin to be seen in the brain, the cells begin to die off and that area of the brain becomes thinner and less dense. The MRI studies can detect these specific changes where the damage has already happened.

The primary finding in this study relates to the diet the people consumed. The ones who ate the most fruits, vegetables, nuts, peas, fish, and olive oil showed a much healthier brain than the ones who ate red meat and saturated fats found in dairy products like cheese, butter, and cream as well as fried foods.

An article published in the medical journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia pointed out something that all of us ought to take note of. The study stressed that a consensus has emerged in the Alzheimer’s research field that intervention strategies of prevention should be initiated as early as possible before symptoms begin.

The focus of prevention is shifting to the stage-one period. There is an emphasis on making lifestyle changes before symptoms begin in order to lessen the risk factors that lead to a progression of the disease. If you don’t have any symptoms concerning your memory or thought processing, congratulations – now is the time to start Defeating Dementia. If you do have some symptoms, congratulations – also, now is the time to start the same plan because you can do something to significantly modify the progressive worsening of symptoms.