Co-sponsored by Princeton Health and the Regency Health Committee
Memorize these three words: apple, penny, table.
Got it? Okay, now spot the differences between the two pictures-there are 15.
Puzzles and brain games like these help to strengthen the mind, said Dr. Jeffrey Apter during his lecture on Alzheimer’s Disease in the Regency Ballroom on Wednesday, November 14. Dr. Apter is the current medical director at Princeton Medical Institute and a senior physician at Penn Medicine Princeton Health.
The lecture, which was co-sponsored by the Regency Health Committee, was the second in a series of talks dedicated to help improve the health and wellness of Regency residents.
He began by showing a comic of superman in his later years, which read “Dang! Where was I going?” He explained that this is an issue many people face as they grow older.
The brain changes with age. As the years go by, a person could face memory impairment and a mild decrease in various cognitive functions. However, those types of symptoms are not necessarily Alzheimer’s. In fact, Prodromal Alzheimer’s, which is a very early form of Alzheimer’s, shows almost no significant functional deficits.
Symptoms to Look Out For
Alzheimer’s is a gradually progressive disease that gets worse over time. According to Dr. Apter, the initial signs are memory loss, executive dysfunction, apathy, or depression. There is also a loss of functional abilities, like confusion dealing with finances or doing typical recreational activities. Risk factors for Alzheimer’s include: age, causative gene mutations, family history, lower intelligence and education, prior head trauma, elevated cholesterol, saturated fat intake, insulin resistance, and systolic hypertension.
Testing is Important
Alzheimer’s is one of the top 10 leading causes of death to people over 65 and is the most common cause of dementia. While Alzheimer’s is very rare before the age of 70, there have been cases where people as young as 40 develop the disease, also known as Early Onset Alzheimer’s.
An estimated 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association show that 13.5 million Americans are at risk to develop the detrimental disease by 2050.
Since the disease is so often under diagnosed, memory screening is necessary to detect it.
Diagnostic Criteria Includes:
- Psychological and neurological exams.
- Medical history review
- Mental health assessment
- Memory and cognitive testing
- Blood tests
- Brain imaging (MRI & PET scan)
Lifestyle Changes Help
Studies have found that places, like this island in Greece, located in the Mediterranean have the smallest population of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Dr. Apter believes that this is due to their diet, exercise due to walking everywhere, and constant social interaction.
Fruits, vegetables, olive and nuts are main components of their diet, which are rich in Omega-3 and can help increase cognitive functions.
Reducing stress is another way to help decrease risk of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Apter recommends practicing the Kirtan Kriya meditation. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in April 2016 found that this form of meditation “improved brainfunctioning by increasing connectivity, improving memory, and decreasing mood aberration,” said Susan Reynolds in her article on the meditation for Psychology Today.
You can learn how to practice the Kirtan Kriya meditation by watching the following video :
Were you able to memorize the three words said in the beginning of this article?
At the end of his lecture, Dr. Apter posed the same question. To his delight, most of the audience shouted out the correct answers.
If you or someone you know is interested in getting a free memory screening, please reach out to the Princeton Medical Institute at 609-921-6050 or visit them at 256 Bunn Drive Suite 6, Princeton, NJ 07540.
Want to find more ways to activate your brain? Visit memorystrings.org/activ8yourbrain
The next event co-sponsored by the Regency Health Committee called “A Modern Holiday Menu” will take place on Dec. 5 and 12. Beth Young, a registered dietitian nutritionist, will be offering tips to spice up your holiday menu with fresh ideas.