Alzheimer’s: Hope on the Horizon

What’s good for your body is often good for your brain.

In general, don’t worry too much if you do not have access to expensive brain training games or other elaborate methods for trying to prevent Alzheimer’s. More and more, what is being found to make a difference in staving off cognitive decline are the same things you may already be doing (or trying to do!) for your overall health.

“Our brains are part of our bodies,” Snyder explained. “We sometimes think that they are separate, but it’s all connected.”

Good nutrition—a diet low in sugar and saturated fats, and rich in fiber and vitamins—may help to protect your brain as well as your heart, lungs and bones. And research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual meeting in August suggests that “ultra-processed foods,” such as soda, potato chips, breakfast cereals and white bread, may speed up cognitive decline. In the study, those whose daily diet consisted of more than 20% of these types of foods had a 28% faster decline in cognitive scores on memory, verbal fluency and executive function.

Another study presented at that same meeting suggested that there are benefits of exercise for aging brains. The EXERT Study, conducted over 12 months during the COVID-19 pandemic, reported that participants with mild cognitive impairment who did even light exercise regularly showed no cognitive decline, compared with a group that did not exercise and experienced significant decline over the 12-month period.

“It never seems to be too late [to see] a benefit in engaging in physical exercise — even if you’re already experiencing cognitive challenges,” Snyder said.

New treatments may be closer than you think.

There’s more good news for people who may already have Alzheimer’s disease: new treatments are in the works. According to Snyder, three new Alzheimer’s drugs are expected to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by early 2024, and there are currently 143 unique therapies in clinical trials, ranging from the use of monoclonal antibodies, which theoretically work by removing beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, to types of immunotherapy, which target the immune system.

Consider looking for clinical trials—even if you’re not currently living with dementia.

It’s not just scientists who are responsible for finding cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s. New drugs aren’t brought to market without the help of patients who participate in clinical trials to help determine how they work. The Alzheimer’s Association itself funds more than $300 million in research in 48 countries. 

“One of the things we heard very loud and clear from our constituents was how challenging it was to find trials,” Snyder said. The organization built a tool called TrialMatch — “like a Match.com for clinical trials,” Snyder explained. It pairs people with trials they may be eligible for based on considerations like diagnosis, health history, age, location and more.

Snyder also adds that there is a common misconception that clinical trials are only for testing new drugs on patients.

“There are trials for care interventions, for risk reduction strategies, online studies that you can participate in, surveys around perceptions of disease, etc.,” Snyder said. “And this is not just for individuals that are living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. This can be people providing care, people who are just concerned, people that think they’re at a higher risk, individuals curious about potential changes in their brain, or those who just want to be a participant in some way.”

To learn more about Alzheimer’s research, visit alz.org and be sure to watch the full webinar.

“We have a vision of a world without Alzheimer’s disease,” Snyder said.

The above content is shared for educational and informational purposes only. References to specific products above do not constitute an express or implied endorsement or recommendation by Brookdale with respect to such products. You must consult your doctor before beginning any exercise or fitness program, taking any additional or discontinuing any existing medications, participating in any clinical trials, or acting on any content on this website, especially if you have a medical condition. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.


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