Alzheimer's disease isn't anyone's fault. We don't know what causes it, and we don't know how to prevent it.
That's important to remember, says Sam Fazio, Ph.D., spokes person for the psychosocial science, medical and scientific affairs for the national Alzheimer's Association. "We expect people to act in certain ways. When their behavior is difficult, we expect them to change in response to care or attention. But people with Alzheimer's can't change. They can't go back to being the way they were."
That means that if you or someone you love has Alzheimer's, your life will change. It does not mean that your life is over, or that you have no control over its quality. Learning and planning as much as you can now may have a major effect on your quality of life.
Learn more about planning for Alzheimer's ›
Do you have plans for the coming week? Have you set up a walk with a friend? Signed up for a class at the local community college?
If not, don't just wait for your phone to ring. Experts suggest you make plans to get together with others—and do something.
"Just as you plan a financial portfolio, it's good to develop a social portfolio as you age. Most people who go into retirement don't really plan how they are going to spend their time," says Gene D. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., a gerontologist in Washington, D.C.
Take the lead in making plans, says clinical neuropsychologist Paul D. Nussbaum, Ph.D., author of Brain Health and Wellness. "Humans were meant to be with other humans, and staying integrated and involved has been shown to lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Socialization, physical activity, and mental stimulation are key to keeping your brain healthy."
Learn more about keeping active with Alzheimer's ›