I have a very specific plan that I talk to my patients about. Most of if, if not all of it, is based on the research that is currently being done—a lot of it at our own center here in Wisconsin. First and foremost is physical activity; publications come out on a weekly basis that show those who are physically active end up doing better. We know that’s for the heart and vascular system, but we’re also showing evidence of physical activity and its effects on the amyloid protein that leads to Alzheimer’s. The first and most important thing I tell my patients is to get up and move. Any movement is good movement, but I really want people to raise their heart rate and to be physically active: moderate physical fitness.
I also talk about diet. I think diet and what we eat is extremely important, and we have lots of research on that. There is the MIND diet by a Rush University professor, Dr. Martha Clare Morris, who came and spoke at our center and has really shown a lot of promising results in her research, which is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. I also talk about the importance of being social. We know that people who are social can have an improved mood because they are challenging their brains and enjoying their quality of life. Sleep is another factor. There’s a list. Of course, not smoking is important. I have had success in getting people to taper down or quit smoking. You just have to find the right ways to motivate people and I think this concern about aging and dementia is a strong motivator.