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Aging Americans work to keep dementia at bay with healthy eating and brain teasers
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Although an Alzheimer's diagnosis cannot be reversed, aging Americans can work to keep their mind sharp with puzzles, physical activity and social engagements. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
Americans of all ages fear Alzheimer's. A recent study, released in May by Aegis Living, found that 72 percent of Millennials, 75 percent of Generation X, 77 percent of Boomers and 69 percent of the Silent Generation worry about what will happen to their memory as they age.

In the face of this fear, potential Alzheimer's sufferers are fighting back.

By adjusting diet and exercise routines, completing logic puzzles and scheduling medical consultations before they even show symptoms, these proactive people hope to postpone or dull the impact of the heartbreaking neurodegenerative disorder, according to a recent article from The Washington Post.

"I can accept the idea that I won't be able to run 10K races. I can't accept not being able to understand what people are saying or recognize people," Charles Goldman, a 71-year-old semi-retired attorney whose mother had Alzheimer's, told the Post.

Around 5.3 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer's disease and it's the country's sixth leading cause of death, the Alzheimer's Association reports. These figures are expected to rise as the population's median age increases in response to the aging Boomer generation.

Although the disease is untreatable, people like Goldman are inspired by research that shows a healthy lifestyle can delay the onset of dementia.

As the National Institute on Aging notes, "A nutritious diet, physical activity, social engagement and mentally stimulating pursuits have all been associated with helping people stay healthy as they age."

Dallas Anderson, program administrator for population studies for Alzheimer's and dementia at the National Institute on Aging, told the Washington Post that although an Alzheimer's diagnosis can't be reversed, anxiety surrounding memory loss can still inspire positive life changes.

"Whatever steps they take whether it's diet or exercise or staying socially engaged or cognitively active those steps will not guarantee that the individual will be spared," he said. "I think the best that we can hope for right now is to postpone the condition. It's not preventing it's postponing. And that's not shabby. If somebody can get an extra five years of independent living, that's big."
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