While Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of the ageing process – if it were, everyone over the age of 65 would be developing the disease! – ageing is known to be the leading risk factor. Fewer than 1% of people under the age of 65 develop Alzheimer’s, while up to 1 in 4 over the age of 85 will develop some form of dementia, regardless of their family history. After 65 our risk roughly doubles every five years.
Advancing age definitely muddies the waters, not only for Alzheimer’s but for most chronic diseases in general. As we age, we are more likely to develop health issues such as high blood pressure or heart disease as our body begins to experience the accumulation of ‘wear and tear’ just like any ‘machine’. Our cells don’t replicate quite as accurately; environmental pollutants, oxidative stress and even UV light all affect how our genes are expressed and ultimately how our body functions.
While general wear and tear to our body is unavoidable as we age, there are ways we can reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s by keeping as physically and mentally fit and healthy as possible.