Preventing Alzheimer's Disease

Breakthrough March 2016


Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia and accounts for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.  Scientists report that 3 out of 4 seniors will develop Alzheimer's as they advance in age.  That leaves 1 out of 4 that will keep their cognitive skills in the later years of their life.  The good news is that you can make a difference.

Back in 1909 a scientist damaged the retina in his eye and the optic sensors in his eye could not communicate with his brain.  As time passed, his natural tendency was to stimulate the sensors as he tried to focus on things and eventually he developed new connections with the brain and regained his eyesight.

This experience lead scientists at Rockefeller University to repeat the experiment in animals and found that the brain, in adulthood and older age, can rewire itself with proper stimulation.  They found the brain made new connections to healthy sensory cells and the animals regained their sight.

Scientists at Rockefeller University theorize that the body and brain developed this trait to help people recover from damage to the brain.  They discovered that the brain can change circuits to change functional properties of brain cells.   They say it is such a good adaptive device that the brain uses the same mechanism of repair to construct memory.  It does require stimulation for both memory and repair to occur.

Scientists have noted that few millionaires develop dementia because it requires education and resources to make and keep that kind of money.  K. Warner Shaie performed a study in 1956 that examined 5000 people aged twenty to more than ninety,  He reported that Intellectual decline varies widely depending upon whether people let their minds loaf or keep them busy.  One out of four eighty-year-olds are as bright as they've always been.

On the other hand, couch potatoes are the quickest to slip into intellectual limbo.  The danger starts when people retire, decide to take things easy, and say they don't have to keep up with the world anymore.

Recently 60 Minutes interviewed a group of 90 year-olds at Leisure World Laguna Beach.  These same people had been studied 30 years earlier and an extensive database existed about these individuals.  The 90 year-olds today are the survivors of this very large group and they had unique traits in common.  These traits are:

  • They tend to be over weight, but not obese. The extra weight may be insurance for when they get ill.

  • They tend to have one or two cocktails a day.

  • They tend to have higher than average blood pressure.

  • They were socially active.

  • They exercised 45 minutes a day.  Exercise of 3 hours did not provide additional benefit. The exercise could be split into several different time slots during the day, it was not important to do it all at once.  They could include some gardening, shopping and a walk.

If we use the exercise lessons of 45 minutes a day as a guideline, and add another 45 minutes of intellectual challenges during the day, it is suspected we can ward off many, if not all, dementia problems.  For do's and don'ts of intellectual challenges, the following ideas are presented.


  • Learn new things like gardening, computers, languages, hobbies.

  • Write letters and express yourself. Write a book. Write poetry.

  • Write trivia questions, and read and answer others trivia questions.  You can get a nightly set of new trivia questions at Yahoo Groups - Insomniac-Net

  • Work crossword puzzles, or jigsaw puzzles.

  • Develop a home based business.

  • Sell used books/CDs/DVDs and items on Amazon or eBay.

  • Play a musical instrument, sing in a choral/choir

  • Cook new foods and desserts.

  • Learn Amateur Radio.

  • Volunteer at the local hospital, church, club, school.

  • Get involved in local government/homeowners groups.

  • Make and sell jewelry at local festivals.

  • Go to estate sales and buy things you can resell.

  • Sell Real Estate.

  • Start scrap booking

  • Have a yard sale, or sell at swap meets.

  • Join a local group of artists/crafters and network with them.

  • Study finance and learn about the stock market.  Manage your own money

  • Spend time with grand children, teach them new things.

  • Take your grandchildren on field trips.

  • Provide after school day care for family members

  • Care for an ailing relative, or neighbor.

  • Employ someone to work with you on these projects.

  • Rescue and care for animals if possible. Become a pet walker.

  • Find a Pen Pal.

  • Re-decorate the house.

  • Study acting, join a local playgroup.

  • Become a bee keeper. raise bees, grow & sell honey.

  • Play cards regularly.

  • Travel to new lands.

  • Host birthday parties, Host Avon Networks, Host Tupperware Parties.

  • Take up knitting, Make quilts. Clean the house.

  • Stay socially active, go dancing regularly.

  • Find a room mate to break the boredom.

  • Do wood working or iron working projects.

  • Take up pottery making.

Basically take time for activities that stimulate your mind and develop new connections within your brain.



  • Don't spend all day watching TV, or Sports. 

  • Limit TV time to informative programs like the news or 60 Minutes

  • Don't read books excessively

  • Don't sleep more than 7 or 8 hours a day.

  • Don't be a couch potato

  • Don't sit staring out a window all day.

  • Don't drink alcohol excessively or take drugs.

  • Don't sit at a slot machine all day.

  • Don't be an isolationist - get out and socialize.

Basically avoid activities where you are not using your brain to reason - such as watching TV.


In addition to exercising one's mind and staying physically active, diet plays an important role in preventing dementia and Alzheimer's.  A recent study of 250 men in their 60s were given a diet high in flavinoids.  Flavinoids provide the color in fruits and raw vegetables.  In general, the darker the fruit skin, i.e. blue berries, the more flavinoids present, the better the source.  The study showed that after 6 months on the diet, the majority of men had cognitive skills of men 30 to 40 years of age.  This is a small sample and more research is required to draw any conclusions, but a bowl of fruit for breakfast will not hurt. 

Recently, another study involving older adults (with an average age of 76 years), 12 weeks of daily blueberry consumption was enough to improve scores on two different tests of cognitive function including memory.

There are other foods known to help cognitive skills.  Shrimp is an excellent source of the antioxidant mineral selenium.  Selenium deficiency has been shown to be a risk factor for heart failure and other forms of cardiovascular disease, as well as for other problems including type 2 diabetes, compromised cognitive function, and depression.  

BREAKTHROUGH On March 15, 2016, researchers at the American Chemical Society and the Krembil Research Institute of the University of Toronto said, an extract from maple syrup prevents clumping and "misfolding" of brain cell proteins--which build up and cause plaques that trigger the devastating disease.  Other natural food products such as green tea, red wine, berries, curcumin and pomegranates continue to be studies for their potential benefits on combating Alzheimer's disease.   Current research show that phenolicenriched extracts of maple syrup from Canada showed neuroprotective effects, similar to resveratrol, a compound found in red wine.

AN ADDED NOTE   I have an 85 year old friend that lost his wife to Alzheimer's and ended up living alone with very little outside stimulation.  His cognitive skills diminished and dementia became a worsening problem.  He lost his drivers license and had little or no outside activity. Finally we had to turn him over to his daughter to care for him and she placed him in a home for seniors.  After a year in the home, I went to visit him and found he had a lady friend and he could speak sentences with longer strings of words than the last time I saw him.  Previously he could only mumble two word phrases, now he is able to communicate reasonably well, although with some difficulty.  I don't know the program where he is living, but it has made a big difference in a years time.  I am convinced that if you follow the above advice, you will prolong your cognitive skills and live a much happier life.


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