Until there’s a cure, UW Health researchers say doing these 3 things can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s

Madison's 'Walk to End Alzheimer's' is Sunday, Oct. 3rd

MADISON, Wis.– One in nine Americans over the age of 65 is currently living with Alzheimer’s. But researchers believe the brain disease actually begins 20 years earlier, before many people notice any symptoms.

That’s why, right here in Madison, doctors are working tirelessly to improve patients’ quantity and quality of life.

“I think there are a few key misconceptions about Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Nate Chin, medical director of the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at UW Health, said in an interview with News 3.

“One is that people think it’s just a memory problem. It’s more than memory. It can impact your attention, your language, your vision, your ability to drive, your ability to go to the bathroom, etc. The list is long.”

Chin spends every day studying and working with Alzheimer’s patients. He knows first-hand how difficult a diagnosis can be, as well as just how many people will receive one. In the next five years, 10,000 Wisconsinites will find out they have Alzheimer’s, bringing the statewide total to more than 130,000. More than 40% of patients will die as a result of complications from the disease.

The good news: there is hope.

“Even though it took a long time to get to where we are now, the rate at which we are learning about the disease as well as conducting intervention studies has increased exponentially,” said Chin.

In the last 10 years, researchers have been detect the disease earlier and earlier. Patients no longer need to die for doctors to use their brains for scans. Nowadays, researchers are testing patients’ spinal fluid, studying protons, and holding out hope that a cure could be just around the corner.

Ways to (possibly) delay a diagnosis

Chin says, like with many diseases, good-quality exercise, diet, and sleep are crucial.

  • Sleep: 7 to 9 hours is the ideal range.
  • Diet: Eat dark, leafy greens, lean meat, and healthy fats. Chin recommends following a Mediterranean, low-sodium plan.
  • Exercise: 150 minutes of cardio a week is best, although Chin says people can begin with 10 minutes (at least!) each day. Walking counts if it gets your heartrate up.

How to help researchers this week

Sunday, Oct. 3 is Madison’s ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s.’ All of the money raised helps fund research through the Alzheimer’s Association. Click here for more information.

The 2021 walk will take place at James Madison Memorial High School. The opening ceremony is at 10 a.m., and the walk will begin at 10:15.