Much is unknown about the origin of Alzheimer’s disease, but a recent study from Tufts University researchers has found that two common viruses may interact and cause Alzheimer’s. The virus that causes chickenpox and shingles (known as varicella-zoster virus) may activate a dormant herpes virus; when that is active, there’s a strong association with Alzheimer’s.

It’s estimated that more than 95 percent of adults have had chickenpox, which remains in the body after the infectious period. As people age and their immune systems weaken, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) can re-activate, causing shingles in the adult.

The Tufts study found that when VZV activates as shingles, it can also reactivate a dormant herpes simplex virus, type 1, which produces oral sores or blisters; that herpes virus has previously been tied to Alzheimer’s.

Researchers say evidence suggests that the herpes type 1 virus, which is carried by 50% to 80% of US adults, can cause neuroinflammation, which is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Prevention may be possible through a shingles vaccine. Those who’ve had a shingles vaccine have been found to have a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s.

Remaining active, mentally and physically, is also important. The Alzheimer’s Association offers information about reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Aging often brings challenges, but remaining at home as long as possible is important to all elderly people. Health issues often make it harder to be independent but with at-home care from FootPrints Home Care’s senior caregivers, many New Mexican seniors can age in place. Our trained caregivers help with the preparation of healthy meals, light housekeeping, management of medication, transportation to medical appointments or shopping, as well as activities of daily living. If we can help you or your family member, whether it’s 24/7 care or a few hours a week, please give us a call.


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