Dementia is a broad term for a group of symptoms that mean your learning and memory are damaged. Alzheimer's disease is one form of dementia, the most common type. But Alzheimer's accounts for only 60% to 80% of all dementias.
Other types include vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and Parkinson's. Drug side effects, brain injury, depression, and alcoholism can create dementia symptoms, too. But they usually get better when those conditions are treated
No vitamin, supplement, food, or drug has been shown to cure Alzheimer's.
One promising antioxidant, resveratrol, is found in red grapes. But resveratrol also could wind up like vitamin E, vitamin C, gingko biloba, B vitamins, and coenzyme Q10. All carried similar hopes at one time or another, but none has been proved to prevent or slow Alzheimer's, much less reverse it.
Research suggests your best bet is an antioxidant-rich diet of fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts to help protect your brain. There’s no silver bullet.
The older you are, the more likely you are to get Alzheimer's. The actual cause isn't fully known, though. Many suspects have been studied and rejected.
The list of things that don’t cause dementia includes aluminum cans and cooking pots, flu shots, artificial sweeteners, and silver dental fillings.
Less than 5% of cases are true "familial Alzheimer's," a type that runs in families. Your genes do play a role, though. Having a parent or sibling with Alzheimer's means you have a higher chance of getting it. That’s something you can’t change.
But research shows that many things you do can lower your odds a lot. These include keeping a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, exercising, taking care of your heart, and controlling diabetes if you have it. Having an active social life -- seeing friends and family and doing things outside your home -- can lower your risk too. Even more education can make a difference for good.
Repeating yourself, getting lost, and showing fuzzy thinking skills all show up after the process of Alzheimer's has already begun in the brain. Researchers believe that the brain changes of the disease may begin years or decades before symptoms appear.
It's normal to forget a meeting. It's a warning sign if you forget many or forget big events or where you are. Normal is misplacing your keys. Abnormal is putting the keys somewhere odd, like the oven, or accusing your spouse of stealing them.
Alzheimer's isn’t a normal part of aging. It's true that most people who get it are over 65. Your risk doubles every 5 years after 65. Nearly half of 85-year-olds don't have it, though. And it can start young. Among those with younger-onset Alzheimer's, a rare inherited form, symptoms start as early as 30 to 50.
It's not known if brainwork can prevent Alzheimer's. But it may help build brainpower that helps you hold off memory loss. It's better to learn new things than to fall into habits. It's also better to work out your brain every day.
Also key to protecting brain health: Daily exercise and a busy social life.