Understanding Alzheimers: What it is, and how to prevent it

Bob and Sue Vogel. Bob was diagnosed with Alzheimers last spring.

According to the Alzheimer's Assocation, about five million Americans have the disease, and that number is expected to triple in the next forty years or so.

Dr. William Van Horn is a clinical psychiatrist who specializes in treating patients with Alzheimers and dementia.

Van Horn, says just getting older increases your chances of getting the disease. "The number one risk factor for Alzheimers is living."

In fact, he says by age 80, probably 70% to 80% show at least the early memory loss of Alzheimers.

So what can be done to prevent Alzheimers?

Dr. Van Horn recommends FEP.

F stands for Feed the brain. He says whole grains, good carbohydrates and protein are good. Any food that helps the heart, he says will help the brain.

E is for Exercise. He says that goes for physical and mental exercise.

P is for Protect the brain. He says get enough sleep and treat anxiety and depression.

Dr. Van Horn says there are medications that can help Alzheimers patients live productive lives. However, it has to be detected early. "The medicines really work if you start the medications early while there's still brain to treat," he says.

If you notice problems learning new things, encounter unusual memory loss, or have relatives who suffered from Alzheimers, get screened.

There is a resource for people caring for Alzheimers patients.

The Alzheimer's Association works to help people struggling with the disease. If you have questions about the disease and how to care for someone who has it, they may be able to help.

Call them at 1.800.272.3900.

Related Links

Alzheimers Association

Understand Alzheimers: Murrells Inlet couple cope with the disease