Baby boomers are often worried by the threat of Alzheimer's. Here's some good news: Preventive steps can ease concerns and improve brain health.
"It's coming up with baby boomers because they are coming of age. They are turning 65," said Dr. Gary Small, director of the University of California Los Angeles Longevity Center. Small has written a book with prevention strategies, The Alzheimer's Prevention Program (Workman Publishing, $13.95). Small will be speaking 7 p.m., Feb. 21 at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Lexington.
Although there is no "magic pill" to cure Alzheimer's, Small said, years of research have shown that proactive measures can help increase brain health.
Managing stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle could stave off the symptoms of the disease for as long as four years, he said.
The brain exercises in the book are culled from Small's 30 years of experience in studying Alzheimer's and other memory problems. The program can make a difference within a week, he said.
"We are very careful in the book to create a program that has impact," he said.
One key point in the book is showing "the connection between lifestyle and behavior and their brain health," he said. Most people know taking a walk is good for your heart, but "most people don't know that a brisk 20-minute walk every day helps your brain."
Diet matters, too, and Small shares dietary suggestions in the book.
"People find the idea of brain health food a little daunting," he said, but if the program in the book is followed, "they'll find they've got more energy and they are more confident with their memory, which improves their mood."
Improving your brain health starting in your 40s is a good idea if there is a family history of Alzheimer's, and by your 50s for most people, he said.