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My maternal grandmother and mother were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. I’m terrified of following in their footsteps, especially since I cared for both of them. When I forget something, fear overcomes me due to my experience with family members who have had this terrible disease. Is there anything else I can do? I am a retired teacher, and wonder if I should return to work or volunteer to keep my mind active? By the way, I take Aricept and Namenda under a physician’s care.

In time, it may be possible to identify people at higher risk for Alzheimer's disease and to prescribe a specific preventive program for them. At this point, however, the advice for reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease is essentially the same as the advice given for the promotion of general healthy aging. It is not clear to me why you're taking Aricept and Namenda unless you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease already. You should discuss the advisability of continuing these medications with a knowledgeable clinician since neither of these medications have been shown to prevent this neurological disorder.

Although there is preliminary data to support the benefit of some interventions, such as physical activity and cardiovascular risk reduction, nothing at this time has definitively been shown to prevent Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. The following are some general healthy aging tips that you may wish to explore:

  • Engage in physical exercise
  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Exercise your mind
  • Cultivate social connections
  • Develop a sense of meaning in your life
  • Maintain adequate sleep
  • Reduce stress
  • Schedule activities that you enjoy

Posted 17 Feb 2011

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Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.