The Dallas Morning News - Actor Hector Elizondo knows how difficult it can be to care for a loved one who has Alzheimer's disease. When the stage and screen star's mother was diagnosed with the progressive form of dementia, his father insisted on becoming her sole caretaker. But her care proved so stressful that his father died a month before she did in 1974.
"It was a time when we were in the dark about what was occurring," says Mr. Elizondo, who lives in Los Angeles and began traveling across the country in June, teaming with local experts as part of an Alzheimer's disease awareness campaign.
An estimated 5.2 million Americans suffered from it in 2008, according to the 2008 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures published by the Alzheimer's Association.
Here are Dr. David W. Crumpacker's, assistant chief of psychiatry at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas suggestions for helping to prevent Alzheimer's disease, along with tips from the Alzheimer's Association.
1. Exercise: Walk or do something physical most days of the week.
2. Eat right: Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly deep green and orange vegetables; low in saturated and trans fats and sugars; and high in whole grains and legumes; include fish.
3. Reduce weight, blood pressure and high cholesterol: Following the first two tips (above) should help.
4. Stay mentally engaged and optimistic: Do puzzles, play music, learn a new language, volunteer, start a hobby, create a strong circle of friends.
5. Don't be in denial: Starting at age 60, ask for a memory test at your annual checkup. Because early treatment can be most effective, seek help at the first signs: forgetting recently learned material, forgetting simple words, putting things in odd places, paying bills twice or not at all, losing track of steps in making a call or playing a game.
SOURCES: Alzheimer's Association: www.alz.org