There’s no getting away from the fact that Alzheimer’s is on the increase. In Ireland today, 38,000 people are living with the condition and this figure is growing year on year.
It’s a progressive brain disorder that gradually takes hold, interfering with the ability to carry out everyday tasks. Between the ages of 60 and 65, risk is low at 1% but after that, risk doubles every five years. Alzheimer’s progresses in three stages, starting with no symptoms, moving to mild cognitive impairment and culminating in full dementia. The rate of this progress differs in each individual.
Those who want to ward off Alzheimer’s would do well to take up chess, as social engagement and intellectual stimulation are believed to slow it down. Continue to enjoy that daily cup of coffee – while caffeine speeds us up it slows memory decline down - but say no to the biscuits because sugar consumption has been shown to exacerbate the condition. If mackerel is on the menu, tuck in because a diet high in fish oils reduces the risk of cognitive decline.
And finally, a comforting fact for families worried about having to move their loved one to a nursing home: more than half of those with Alzheimer’s continue to live at home.