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Managing Alzheimer's Disease

(KOLO)
Published: Aug. 26, 2019 at 7:03 PM CDT
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Each year, more families are struggling with Alzheimer's and memory loss. Knowing what to watch for and what experts say you can do to try to slow the process can help manage the disease.

Nurse practitioner Kelli McAllister says dealing with Alzheimer's is stressful but understanding how it Alzheimer's affects the brain can help families cope.

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She says "there are pathways in the brain and with someone who has Alzheimer's disease you get what we call tangles."

Tangles confuse and prevent normal thinking. And studies show minorities are impacted the most.

"Latinos have a one and a half times risks compared to a Caucasian American. And someone who is African American has a two times likelihood to get Alzheimer's,” McAllister says.

Can it be prevented through lifestyle changes - such as food choices?

McAllister says "a Mediterranean diet, which is low in red meats, higher in fish. Plant based, vegetables, grains" can help prevent the disease.

Giving your brain a workout may also prevent it.

"Reading, doing puzzles, crosswords. Anything like that to keep the brain mentally sharp,” she says.

There’s no cure - so catching the signs early on is crucial

"It's important for you to be able to get that diagnosed early. Number one, to get on medications. The earlier we can find that and keep those pathways open the better off we're going to be,” McAllister says.

According to the National Alzheimer's Association, more than 5-and-a-half million Americans live with Alzheimer's right now.

It's the fifth leading cause of death for Americans over 65.