On Veteran’s Day Let’s Take a Moment to Care for our Veteran’s Brains

As we celebrate and honor those who have served to defend our nation, it is also a time to reflect and acknowledge how service often impacts both the person and their family. 

For example, those who served in Vietnam are at increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to their peers who never served.  We expect to see similar trends in our OEF/OIF Veterans as they age but we have an opportunity to do better for them.  New scientific findings suggest that head injury and PTSD are likely contributors for veterans developing Alzheimer’s at higher rates than the general population. In fact, recent evidence suggest that a diagnosis of PTSD doubles to quadruples the lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.  This is likely due to the fact that PTSD is linked with reduced volume in the hippocampus, a vital brain region associated with memory and also implicated in Alzheimer’s Dsease. 

Us Against Alzheimer’s has an entire group devoted to veterans and their needs and you can find out more information there, as well as information on how to support our vets https://www.usagainstalzheimers.org/networks/veterans

If you are a Veteran or care for a Veteran, there are things you can do to ward off and potentially even reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Recent research has shown that a healthy lifestyle is critical to lowering the chances of dementia. This means that healthy eating habits, adequate sleep, responsible drinking, and abstaining from smoking are all important to lowering your risk for dementia. 

Finally, to stay ahead of dementia use your brain, interact with others, socialize, exercise, and learn something new every day.  If you are a Vet and have concerns about dementia, go to your VA or your physician and ask about a cognitive screen.  Obtaining a baseline cognitive screen can help to determine if you have any current cognitive problems and you can track your changes over time to catch early symptoms.  You can also test yourself today with our platform at Savonix to obtain a neuropsychological screen at home for free. 

As a person who speaks about Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia I often get asked “What can I do to help?”  You can help researchers learn more about how this horrible disease starts and develops, so that we can figure out how to stop it.  Much like large studies of risk factors for heart disease led to the development of Statin drugs to reduce the risk of heart attack – population studies of cognition can point scientist to targets for the development of drugs and other therapies to slow or totally stop dementia from developing. 

If you would like to help today to honor a Veteran in your life, please go to AssistStudy.org to participate in cutting edge research on the development of dementia and take us one step closer to winning the fight against Alzheimer’s. This is your opportunity to contribute 45 minutes of your time to help others and maybe even change your own future outcome or that of someone you love.