Book Review: The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program

In The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program, Dr. Gary Small and his wife, Gigi Vorgan, lay out a plan to prevent, delay and diminish the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease for those of us at risk, which is almost everyone if we live long enough.

Small and Vorgan start by offering several do-it-yourself assessment tools that help us establish our own baseline assessments. This is an important step in the process and not to be overlooked. The authors are convinced that “once people know their baseline, they often see the correlation between their brain health and their daily behaviours, and that motivates them to adjust their lifestyle.”

After establishing our baselines, we can build on our strengths and address our weaknesses. Many of the strategies suggested by Small and Vorgan can be easily incorporated into our daily lives. It is reassuring to read that it is not necessary to spend hours on difficult puzzles or activities that serve only to increase our stress levels. The authors stress that “an effective Alzheimer’s prevention program not only has to help improve memory and mental acuity quickly, but it also has to be fun and easy to use.” We should be training not straining the brain

I enjoyed the mental workouts and appreciated the gentle humour in the authors’ instructions. My favourite is their memory training regimen, Look, Snap, Connect. Start by focusing your attention on what you want to recall later. Next, form a mental snapshot of the information. Create visual associations to connect your mental snapshots for later recall.

Using unrelated words such as skateboard, grandmother, dishes, elf, and football field, Small and Vorgen encourage us to create an outrageous and memorable story and then try to remember the words ten minutes later. Their example: My grandmother made me pancakes before she skateboarded past the football field, where she saw an elf juggling some dishes. Try it. It works!

Of all the lifestyle habits they suggest, Small and Vorgan have noticed that people seem most resistant to changing their diet. And that is the area where we will achieve the most compelling benefits. Without treatment and lifestyle modifications, high levels of sugar or glucose in the blood could increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and other age-related diseases.

After reading self-help books, many of us nod in agreement and plan to make changes later. In this book, Dr. Small and Gigi Vorgan provide a seven-day jump-start program that tells us when, what and how to eat, exercise, stimulate our brains, and practice stress reduction so that each of these elements can easily become part of our daily routines.

No excuses…start now!