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Stand for the Silent: Psychiatrist encourages lifestyle changes to prevent Alzheimer's

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In the last installment of KTVO’s Stand for the Silent series, – we’re now focusing on Alzheimer’s awareness.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association – someone in the US develops the disease every 65 seconds.

And, its predicted the number of people diagnosed will only increase in the future.

But psychiatrist and author Dr. Timothy Jennings says despite what people think, Alzheimer’s does not have to accompany aging. He’s the author of, ‘The Aging Brain: Proven Steps to Prevent Dementia and Sharpen Your Mind.’

“The most common myth I’ve found is most people believe that if you live long enough, dementia is inevitable, it’s just part of aging. One thing I want to disabuse people of is that is just not true,” Jennings explained.

He says there are many things that can be done to keep your brain healthy, and has seen firsthand the effects lifestyle changes can have.

“I’ve seen it personally with my patients, and the data shows that people even with mild cognitive changes, when they’re not quite fully demented but they’re not quite as sharp as they used to be, and they can see that, if make those lifestyle changes they don’t progress on to dementia,” Jennings said. “Patients aged 55 years and older in one study who started walking regularly, within three months they could see growth in parts of the brain where memories take place that was equivalent to reversing two years of aging. You can see these things in real practice and you can see these things in the studies.”

Getting into a habit of exercising 20-30 minutes a day, sleeping seven to eight hours a night, stress management, and an anti-inflammatory diet are all proven factors to be neuroprotective, Jennings says.

Jennings says there are multiple symptoms of early Alzheimer's.

“Early indications would be memory slippage, cognitive loss, word searching problems, not being quite as sharp in answering, and it has to be a persistent symptom, not an occasional bad day,” Jennings said.

Alzheimer’s greatly affects caretakers, and Jennings has a suggestion for when it’s time to seek help.

“When the condition of the individual becomes such that you can no longer provide for them, that’s when help needs to be brought in, whether it’s self-help, or some type of facility,” Jennings advised.

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