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Alzheimer's disease: warning signs, preventative measures & stats

Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, is a progressive and degenerative brain disease that slowly destroys memory and cognitive skills.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, it is the most common form of dementia, “accounting for 64 per cent of all dementias in Canada.”

What is Alzheimer’s and what causes it?

Some of the risk factors include aging, genetics, and other factors, such as pre-existing conditions, environmental toxins, diet, and exercise.

Research suggests some of the factors that increase a person’s risk of heart disease can also increase the risk for Alzheimer’s, in particular high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, and diabetes.

Watch a video explainer of the disease below:

Click here to view it on your mobile or tablet device.

Warning signs

  • Memory loss that affects daily life
  • Difficulty performing regular tasks
  • Getting lost in familiar surroundings
  • Time/place confusion and disorientation
  • Problems with language and conversation
  • Planning and problem-solving issues
  • Vision problems
  • Decreased or poor judgement
  • Misplacing items
  • Personality and mood changes
  • Social withdrawal

For more information about the warning signs, visit the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Alzheimer’s Association websites.

Some preventative measures

  • Medication to curb disease symptoms
  • Reducing risk of heart disease
  • Healthy diet and increasing brain food
  • Physical activity and exercise
  • Cognitive stimulation
  • Social connection and activities

Click here for more information on preventative measures.

Research suggests brain heath is linked to heart health. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, each heartbeat “pumps about 20 to 25 percent of your blood to your head” and brain cells “use at least 20 per cent of the food and oxygen your blood carries.”

Other studies show a Mediterranean diet may help the brain. Some of the foods include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, and very little red meat.

Health officials stress early diagnosis is key to getting treatment benefits, getting support for you and your loved ones, and having more time to plan the future.

Watch a video below on the importance of early diagnosis:

Click here to view it on your mobile or tablet device.

Some statistics on the disease

According to the federal government’s Canadian Institutes of Health Research, as of 2011, an estimated 747,000 of Canadians have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, and that number is projected to hit 1.4 million by 2031.

Over 70,000 of those affected are under the age of 65 and around 50,000 under the age of 60, the Alzheimer Society of Canada said.

The society also said one in 11 Canadians over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s, with women comprising almost three-quarters of Canadians with the disease.

In Toronto, an estimated 40,000 of people have Alzheimer’s, with that number expected to reach 64,000 by 2031.

Click here for more statistics on the disease.

Below is an infographic on the disease in Canada:

SOURCE: Canadian Institutes of Health Research
SOURCE: Canadian Institutes
of Health Research

Click here to view it on your mobile or tablet device.

Click here for videos on the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s website.