The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple in the next 40 years as baby boomers age, says a new study.
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Rush University researchers say in 2010 there were nearly 5 million people with Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to grow to nearly 14 million by 2050.
What the numbers mean
“This really reflects how the demographics in the United States are moving along,” says geriatrician Ronan Factora, MD. “Baby boomers are going to have these conditions, including Alzheimer’s. It will be a big burden to them, their spouses, families and to society overall.”
Researchers say these projections should compel healthcare providers to begin preparing for the increased number of patients who will be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Staying healthy as you age
Though there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s, Dr. Factora says baby boomers can do a number of things to maintain a healthy lifestyle that may help slow the development of the disease.
1. Continue to see your doctor regularly. Get yearly checkups and if you have health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, work with your doctor to make sure that they are well controlled.
2. Stay physically active. Regular exercise promotes blood flow to the brain, encourages new blood cells and can significantly reduce risks of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, all risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Walking, swimming, jogging, playing tennis and dancing — any or all can be part of your aerobic exercise program. Include some strength training to maintain your muscle mass.
3. Engage your brain. Research has found that keeping your brain active increases its vitality and may even produce new brain cells and connections. Read, write, do crossword and other mental puzzles, go to lectures, enroll in courses at your local community college, do new things that engage more than one of your senses.