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These 5 Lifestyle Changes May Reduce Risk Of Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia By 60%, Researchers Say

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- New research shows there are lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. A lot of new research is being presented at the Alzheimer's International Conference.

It's estimated that 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease and the numbers are growing. One study says even if it runs in your family, there are ways to reduce your risk.

Looking through photo albums means a lot to Kristen and Glenn Hemanes. Kristen's father recently passed away from Alzheimer's disease.

"It's draining for the families and such a debilitating disease for everybody," she said.

Her husband, Glenn, also lost his grandfather to Alzheimer's. With a family history, the couple wants to try to lower their chances of developing the disease.

"It's one of the worst things to experience because you lose that connection with somebody," Glenn said.

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New research from the Alzheimer's Association International Conference suggests adopting four or five healthy lifestyle practices may reduce the risk for dementia by 60%.

The study focused on a healthy diet, moderate to vigorous physical activity, not smoking, light to moderate drinking and engaging in activities that stimulate the mind.

"These are things that everybody can do every day," Dr. Maria Carrillo, chief science officer at the Alzheimer's Association, said.

A separate study shows healthy habits may counteract a person's genetic risk for dementia. Researchers looked at people that have the same genetic risks but different lifestyles.

"People that had a healthy lifestyle actually had less chance of developing dementia. That's really exciting because it means there is something you can do today even to overcome what you've inherited," Carrillo said.

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Kristen and Glenn are already eating right and getting plenty of exercise.

"It started several years ago for me but it's changed even more so now," Kristen said.

"I think it's one motivator of many that motivates me to stay healthy," Glenn said.

Another study presented at the international conference says scientists are closing in on a blood test for Alzheimer's. Doctors say it could be used at routine doctor visits and to help doctors figure out who needs more extensive testing.

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