No one likes to think about the possibility of getting Alzheimer's or dementia as they age, but everyone is faced one way or the other with this catastrophic collection of brain diseases. You may have a parent, grandparent, or friend who you know and care about that has dementia. The tragedy of most forms of dementia is that there is no cure and the disease is progressive.
An estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer's dementia today. This number could grow to 13.8 million by 2060 unless there are medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow, or cure Alzheimer’s disease. Two-thirds of people over the age of 65 with Alzheimer's are women.
Pharmaceutical companies have spent billions of dollars researching medication to treat Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia with limited success. It is hard not to think, “what can I do to prevent this from happening to me?” Bits and pieces of non-pharmacological approaches have seeped into the mainstream, but without research to verify their efficacy, there is no way to know if they work.
But, there is good news from research on hormones and their effect on risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Let’s look at one study in particular that shows the impact of targeted hormone replacement on risk reduction for neurodegenerative diseases.
How Targeted Hormone Replacement Reduces the Risk of Dementia
This study looked at a group of women over the age of 45 divided into two groups: those who participated in hormone replacement and those who did not. The hormone replacement medications were FDA-approved, and delivery was oral, transdermal, and through injection. The control or non-treatment group had no medical claims of hormone replacement.
Results of Hormone Replacement and Neurodegenerative Disease
There is debate about why women are more prone to dementia, and there is speculation that this has to do with hormone changes during and after menopause. The findings of this study:
Menopausal hormone therapy reduces Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative disease risk.
Risk reduction was greater for formulations containing natural steroids (bio-identical hormones).
Longer duration of hormone therapy was associated with greater risk reduction.
Risk reduction became apparent in women aged 65 years or older.
The results imply that precision hormone replacement can be advanced by optimizing the type, route, and duration of therapy.
This study points to the benefit of using bio-identical hormone replacement and a targeted or individualized approach to hormone replacement which is exactly what we do at Optimal Hormone Health.
Other Healthy Lifestyle Traits and Alzheimer's
Hormone replacement should be considered as part of an overall strategy to improve memory and health. Is hormone replacement enough to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's if you ignore other factors? That is hard to say, but why not take a proactive approach to health? Other medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes are associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease. So, controlling those modifiable risk factors has multiple benefits.
What Can You Do to Improve Your Memory and Reduce Your Risk of Dementia?
A hormone replacement tailored to your individual levels and needs is a good place to start feeling better and possibly prevent dementia.
There is no getting around it, exercise is arguably the foundation of good health and reduces all the risk factors associated with Alzheimer's disease. A very recent study demonstrated improvement in memory with exercise and looked at specific types of exercise and their effect on particular kinds of memory.
Look no further than the MIND diet: Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. Basically, the MIND diet is a plant-based diet with these characteristics: plant-based foods that are minimally processed and limited animal-based foods that are high in saturated fats and foods with added sugars.
The MIND study shows that the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.
There is an association between mentally stimulating activity and a delay in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. More research is needed in this area, but there could be a relationship between whether cognitive activities that involve other people have an added benefit.
Putting It All Together
The fight against all neurodegenerative diseases is a puzzle with many missing pieces, but many that also fit. Waiting for a pharmaceutical solution is not the best approach when we know there are changes you can make now to reduce your chances of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. And the bonus is feeling and looking better!