THE purpose of this article is not to present the incidence and statistics of Alzheimer's but to discuss some measures which can either prevent or delay the onset of the condition

Alzheimer's is a disorder of brain and mind and often affects other parts of the body as a consequential effect. Any prevention therefore must be in relation to the higher functioning of brain. Cognition, memory, capacity of making sensible decisions, features needed to live everyday life, are affected and compromised.

When one deals with the body function and capacity, physical exercise and practice are required. The Olympic competitors prepare their bodies for years and take them to the extreme levels of tolerance to achieve their goals. Minds can also be exercised and challenged to improve its capacity and overall functions.

We all had to work hard and burn midnight oil to do well in our school/college exams; going over the subject over and over again and to accrue knowledge, figures, data etc as much as possible. This is well known and tested and does work most of the time.

Exercising mind and challenging it with hard decision making tasks is perhaps the best way to keep ones thinking capacity in good order. Many talk about doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku etc but undertaking just those is probably not enough. One must remain more involved in serious decision making activities — be them legal, financial, social or just family matters. If you think carefully, we all are required to make decisions every day; may not be all big and complex but each and every one is challenging to our minds.

People with prolonged higher education/training, with experience in complex decision-making process at work, handling interacting difficult situations tend to hold a greater intellectual reserve which often protect them from future cognitive decline and ultimately Alzheimer's.

This scenario is certainly not always certain and there are many many exceptions. Presidents and Prime Ministers are known to have been afflicted with Alzheimer's. But in general terms this is true.

So keep your mind active, remain involved in decision making process and take on challenging tasks — these may help you in later years. In addition maintain regular contact with people and interact with them; such engagements with other individuals, talking and exchanging (and perhaps arguing) with them can be very useful as these always improve one’s mental expanse.

Otherwise the usual advice of balanced diet, physical exercise, social involvements are all very important. Cutting the intake of fatty diet and taking statins or omega3 oils to reduce blood lipids may be helpful in general terms but any direct evidence in their ‘efficacy’ in preventing Alzheimers is lacking.

The whole world is seeking a better understanding and looking for a cure of this dreadful disorder. Nothing definite is available yet

A few pharmaceutical products have been found to be somewhat promising for some types of Alzheimer's in delaying its progress but so far no cure.

Prevention is always better than cure; but there are no therapeutic pills for this either.

These measures outlined are perhaps the most accepted lines of action to take; easy, feasible and without any financial implications — just change of life and mind style.

Arup Banerjee