Let’s face it, we all have days where we just feel like we could use a few more hours of sleep. But, if you notice your aging relative frequently dozing off or complaining of sleepiness during the day, new research suggests they may be at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Sleep and Alzheimer’s Study
One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease are beta-amyloid deposits that build up in the brain. Researchers looked at information gathered from 123 participants who were at an average age of 60 to see how sleep affected the creation of beta-amyloids and affected the risks for developing the disease.
The study revealed that the people who reported frequently feeling drowsy during the day were three times more likely to have beta-amyloid protein deposits in their brains. This isn’t the first study to draw a connection between sleep and Alzheimer’s, so it supports existing evidence.
Studies like these don’t necessarily prove that people with sleep problems will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease. However, they do suggest that sleep may be a treatable risk factor for the disease.
Other Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists don’t know exactly what causes Alzheimer’s but they think it is probably a combination of the lifestyle a person leads, their environment, and genetics. Although they don’t know the cause, scientists have identified some risk factors that may increase the chances of a person developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Some of the risk factors are:
Age: The biggest risk factor for getting the disease is growing older. However, that does not mean it is a normal part of aging. According to the Mayo Clinic, the risk for Alzheimer’s dramatically increases after age.
Genetics: People with a sibling or parent who has or had Alzheimer’s disease are at a slightly higher risk. Scientists have determined that if mutations of certain genes are present in a person, they are almost guaranteed to develop the disease. However, the genetic mutations are involved on less than 5 percent of Alzheimer’s cases.
Down Syndrome: People with Down syndrome often develop the disease, and they develop it up to 20 years earlier than people without Downs.
Gender: Women get the disease more often than men, but scientists think this may be because women tend to live longer.
Lifestyle: Lifestyle factors, like lack of exercise and obesity, that increase a person’s risk for heart disease may also increase the risk for Alzheimer’s.
If your aging relative has Alzheimer’s disease, a home care services provider can help them to remain safely at home for as long as possible. Home care services providers can prevent people with the disease from engaging in harmful behaviors, like wandering. They can also assist with tasks around the house that the senior may not be capable of doing anymore, such as cleaning and cooking. Home care services providers can also help your family member with self-care, like bathing, dressing, brushing their teeth, and more.