Psychological Stress Among Risks for Alzheimer’s Disease

Everyone is exposed to both positive and negative events and experiences across the lifespan. These experiences cause stress, and the stress has both physical and psychological effects on our brains, on our overall health, and on our quality of life. Although some exposure to stress can be good for us and help us build resilience, there is mounting evidence in scientific studies that stress kills brain cells, increasing the risk for later dementia, particularly if the stress exposure is longlasting and if the person has a very distress-prone personality or uses poor coping strategies.

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Dementia Risk: Is It Nature or Nurture?

Alzheimer’s is a complex disease for which there is no known method for reversing its effects and no known cure for those who develop it. While a large part of the risk for developing AD comes from genes we inherit, there is evidence suggesting that an even greater part of our risk comes from our “environment,” and more specifically, our lifestyle.

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Maximizing the Quality of Life for Persons with Dementia

This fact sheet show how through simple adjustments to the environment and by providing opportunities for meaningful activities or pleasant experiences, caregivers can play a key role in maximizing the quality of life that people with dementia can maintain despite their impairments.

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Finding Joy in an Alzheimer's Reality | Beth Fauth | TEDxUSU Video

As people live into advanced age, their risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias increases. With no current cure, we are faced with one solution, and that is to provide the best care that we can for people living with this condition. Meeting the persons’ daily, physical needs in only passable; we can set the bar higher. This talk invites you to consider how empathy, patience, and basic aspects of human interaction can maximize the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

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A Healthy Brain: Use It or Lose It!

Challenging your muscles makes for strong healthy muscles, and challenging your brain cells makes for a strong healthy brain. Build up your brain’s cognitive reserve – create a well-connected, high-capacity brain – through overall healthy behaviors (diet and exercise) and making mentally challenging activities part of your daily life. The more options your brain has to get its signals sent, the better able it is to handle areas of damage. A well-connected brain may be better able to delay or prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s.

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Are My Memory Changes Normal?

As we age, our brains age right along with the rest of our bodies. Our reaction time may begin to slow as a result of aging, and we will continue to experience “mild forgetfulness” as a normal part of life. If your memory changes are greater, or these changes seem to be noticeably impacting your ability to carry on your normal day-to-day activities, these are indicators that it is time to be evaluated by a physician for MCI, dementia, or other cognitive problems. 

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Late-Life Depression

Having the occasional period of feeling sad or blue, which then resolves on its own is a normal part of life and is not considered depression. When symptoms become more common, or more intense, however they should not be ignored. A physician, psychiatrist, or licensed clinical psychologist should be consulted in order to determine the type of depression that may be present, so the person can be treated effectively.

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Making Lifestyle Choices to Reduce Late-Life Depression Risk

Depression is a complex condition involving insufficient levels of brain chemicals, life stressors, thought processes, behaviors, and coping mechanisms. Medications and counseling therapy are effective in treating depression, and research suggests that several lifestyle practices also help to protect us from depression, and speed up our recovery if we do experience it. These behaviors, such as being socially connected, eating healthy and exercising, cost little to nothing but can have profound benefits on our overall quality of life and help us to stay depression-free.

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Is Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia the Same Thing? Clarifying Types and Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia is not a term that refers to just one disease (Alzheimer’s Association, 2016). The term dementia is a label for a number of symptoms related to the loss of cognitive (brain) function. Symptoms include a decline in memory or other thinking and problem-solving skills, being confused about time and place, for example not knowing what year it is, or how you arrived somewhere, and changes in mood or personality. Even though there are multiple pathways to dementia and it is fairly common in older people, especially people over age 85 (Harada, Natelson Love, & Triebel, 2013), it is not considered a normal part of the aging process.

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