When a loved one lives with Alzheimer’s disease, members of their family often worry if there is a genetic link. Watching someone you love suffer with dementia makes that concern inevitable. While the cause of Alzheimer’s disease continues to elude researchers, some clinical trials are shedding light on possible links between health problems and the disease. One medical condition that has interested scientists for some time is a possible link between older adults with anemia and the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Exploring the Relationship between Alzheimer’s Disease and Anemia
A study published in Neurology magazine last year explored the idea that patients who were anemic were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. They hypothesize that because people who are anemic have fewer red blood cells, they have less oxygen reaching their brain. Can that somehow contribute to the plaques and tangles believed to lead to Alzheimer’s? In this trial, 2,552 participants who were dementia-free were evaluated and followed. 392 of them had anemia at the start of the trial. Over the course of the 11 year study, participants who had anemia were 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Even though that is a very significant percentage, scientists aren’t ready to say for certain there is a causal relationship. Instead they want to investigate the relationship more and examine what, if any, impact anemia prevention might have on the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Talking with a Senior Loved One’s Physician About Anemia
If you are worried the Michigan senior you love might be at risk for anemia because of a poor diet or another health concern, share your concerns with their physician. They can make that diagnosis. If your hunch is right, their physician can help develop a plan to improve it. The bottom line is that even though these are preliminary studies, it is yet one more reason older adults need to adopt a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients, and to take advantage of community-based senior nutrition programs for support.