Alzheimer’s disease is a condition affecting more than 5.7 million Americans. While the disease is devastating for the people living with it, Alzheimer’s and dementia are equally devastating for the families, caregivers, and loved ones who watch helplessly as the memories that make their loved ones vanish one by one.

While there is no definitive cause for the disease, there are many contributing factors researchers believe increase Alzheimer’s risks among patients. Things like lifestyle, genetics, and overall good health. Apparently, you can add another thing to the list of factors contributing to Alzheimer’s death. Location.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releases annual reports concerning Alzheimer’s disease mortality rates by state, ranking them from highest to lowest occurrences. Maryland has the second lowest Alzheimer’s Disease Mortality rate nationwide, at 17.4 per 1,000. New York is the only state with a lower mortality rate at only 13.1 per 1,000 for the Empire State.

Maryland families of loved ones living with Alzheimer’s know all too well the struggles the illness prevents. There are things family members and other loved ones can do, though, that may help to delay the progression of the illness. These things include adopting a quality care regimen early on that involves memory building games, puzzles, cognitive learning exercises, physical exercise, art therapy, and more.

Working with a physician to prescribe medications as quickly after diagnosis as possible can only go so far. Patients must be vigilant about taking medications as prescribed. This sometimes requires the use of multiple medication aids like pill reminders, pill boxes, pill crushers (especially handy for patients who are reluctant to take pills and need them crushed and mixed with food or drink to encourage compliance), etc.

The other thing is to work with loves ones who have Alzheimer’s daily to create a consistent routine, reduce distractions and surprises, and to remind them daily of names, faces, foods, and activities that are important to them.

Diet and exercise are also important for Alzheimer’s patients. Nearly 80 percent of Alzheimer’s patients also have some form of cardiovascular disease greatly increasing the likelihood that there is a strong link between the two. This means patients who have Alzheimer’s disease need to follow heart healthy diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish oil, to promote memory, mental alertness, and better overall brain and heart health. If Maryland residents follow these outstanding practices our great state may take top spot in they years to come.