Alzheimer's Disease - Are There ways to Fight It?
Here are questions most of us have. Followed by some research and answers to help us and give hope this can one day end.
1. What is Dementia and what causes it?
2. What is Alzheimer's and how long does it last?
3. Is there no cure for Alzheimer's?
4. What are the ways to fight Alzheimer's?
5. New hope on the horizon.
6. Waiting for a cure?
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a broad category of diseases, with Alzheimer's Disease being a specific type and also the most common cause. Dementia can include thought processes, behavior, communication, judgment and memory.
Symptoms of Dementia
Dementia results from damage to the brain and is related to several different neurological conditions affecting cognition, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, and Frontotemporal Dementia. Over five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.
Symptoms of dementia are severe enough to interfere with daily functions. It affects in different ways and no one can say exactly the behavior patterns of any individual and I have really never seen any two alike. I would not say it even has to do with personality.
My mother-in-law who could speak pretty sharp to people got very mellow and nice. Her last words to me were "I love you" and I never heard her say those words before, even to her own children. I love picturing her sitting up in her hospital bed all dressed in pink and her hair looking beautiful where I had rolled and styled it for her and maybe had something to do with her words to me. Still, it is a great memory.
My own mother who was always sweet and comical at times with her sense of humor kept those traits. Another lady I heard about who was on the wealthy side (only told about this) got really bad behavior problems using the bathroom all over her house and doing really crazy things which were very hard on her family to see and of course, she had to go into assisted living.
It is simply a horrible disease we need a cure for fast and the good news is it just might happen!
What is Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's is a type of dementia-causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually come on slowly and get worse as time progresses, eventually becoming severe enough to interfere with the daily rituals and tasks of everyday life.
Not Just in the Elderly
Five percent of people with Alzheimer's (known as younger-onset), have this come on them in their forties or fifties.
Alzheimer's getting increasingly worse. In the beginning stages memory loss is mild, but as it progresses to late-stage Alzheimer's, sufferers lose the ability to carry on a conversation or act naturally to their environment. Being the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms start being noticed by others. Survival ranges from four to twenty years, according to age and general health conditions.
Questions We All Have About Alzheimer's
Why do some individuals develop hallmark Alzheimer's plaques and tangles but not the symptoms of Alzheimer's?
Several conditions are known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol seem to also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's. Autopsy studies show as many as 80% with Alzheimer's disease also have cardiovascular disease.
The vascular disease could help researchers find an answer down the road. Autopsy studies also suggest that plaques and tangles could be in the brain without causing signs of cognitive decline unless the brain also shows evidence of vascular disease.
Much more study is needed to understand the link between vascular health and Alzheimer’s. So much is being discovered we can almost see and feel the cure getting so much closer, but wait, there are better things yet to come!
Check out the video at the end of this article for the best understanding of Alzheimer's you have probably ever seen.
No Cure for Alzheimer's?
There is no cure for Alzheimer's at this time but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues to find benefits to ease the disease. Alzheimer's treatments today can temporarily slow dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's and the sooner these medicines are given the better.
Are Medications Worth the Side Effects?
I personally saw no improvement in my own mother's Alzheimer's condition with the one medicine, then another hurt her stomach so bad I opted to forgo it. Side effects should be taken into consideration. Already the sufferer of these diseases are in a bad mental state and to add pain to that I think is simply cruel and not worth what little good it might do if it is not caught early.
Possibly, if she had gotten the medicine sooner, it might have made a difference, so I am certainly not putting it down. But there really was no improvement and once she went into a nursing facility she was put on two different ones with her condition only getting worse and the stomach pain made her lose almost all appetite. She lost down to under 100 pounds.
My personal experience with several Alzheimer's victims now tell me quiet and calm is some of the very best medicine. I totally disagree with the thought they should always be given the truth. Most have no idea their parents and many times even their spouse or children have passed on and it is so very upsetting for them to hear this it cannot possibly be a good idea. I will never change my mind on that. It is like reminding a two-year-old its dog was run over instead of trying to get it off their minds which we all know to do. Being upset is not good for anyone at any age and it is not as if they will ever accept the facts and say they are OK with it. We do not have to lie to keep from telling them upsetting truths. It does not take much to get their minds elsewhere and feeding them happy thoughts is always best for them and the caregivers!
Have you known or do you know anyone with Alzheimer's?
Ways to Fight Alzheimer's
Experts suggest that for dementia lifestyle could be more important than medicines.
Here are three that could very well cut your chances of getting Alzheimer's!
1. Eating Healthy
Naturally, it makes perfect sense to us all that foods we put into our bodies have an impact on our future health. Rather than depending on vitamins in pill form we should be supplying these nutrients into our bodies via foods! A Mediterranean diet with whole grains, green leafy vegetables, berries, fish, legumes and nuts, and even a serving of red wine into your daily meals is suggested with some experts believing a Mediterranean diet could possibly be more effective than what Alzheimer’s drugs we have on the market. Some German scientists believe olive oil introduced into your daily meals can help prevent the risk of Alzheimer’s. These scientists even used the superfood qualities to make a new Alzheimer's medicine because the antioxidants from olives could help to slow down the disease process.
Vegetables, especially leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnip greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, which have been strongly linked to lower levels of cognitive decline in older age, according to a study in the Annals of Neurology.
Salmon and other cold-water fish, halibut, tuna, mackerel and sardines, all rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Other omega-3 sources are beans, certain nuts, flax seeds and healthy oils, such as olive oil.
Berries and dark-skinned fruits, rich in antioxidants. Alzheimer’s Association claims some of the fruits that are best are blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, red grapes, and cherries.
Coffee and chocolate, studies show caffeine and coffee are great therapeutics against Alzheimer’s disease. The caffeine and antioxidants in these two can help fight age-related memory impairment, and also cinnamon and curry.
Extra virgin olive oil, has a substance called oleocanthal helping boost production of key proteins and enzymes that help break down amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. (More on this below!)
Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, a heart-healthy oil free of cholesterol and trans-fats and boosts ketones. Coconut oil has been shown to improve the body’s use of insulin, increase HDL (good cholesterol), boost thyroid function acting as an antioxidant and natural antibiotic. (I add this to hot chocolate!)
Ginkgo Biloba is used to treat memory disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia. It benefits confusion, poor concentration, fatigue, dizziness and depression, according to the Mayo Clinic and also used to treat generalized anxiety disorder and schizophrenia by improving blood circulation. Ginkgo Biloba helps the brain, legs, eyes, and ears to function better according to Web MD.
Natural food like green tea, red wine, berries, curcumin, and pomegranates still are being studied for potential benefits in fighting Alzheimer’s disease, professor Seeram announced. “Now, in preliminary laboratory-based Alzheimer’s disease studies, phenolic-enriched extracts of maple syrup from Canada showed neuroprotective effects, similar to resveratrol, a compound found in red wine.” They claim to know that maple has more than 100 bioactive compounds, some of which have anti-inflammatory properties and surely they would not misguide us about the potential benefits that maple syrup might have in this area. Very encouraging news.
2. Exercise Your Brain
Research repeatedly shows when people keep their brain active, whether, through continued education, challenging work activity or social engagement activity, the memory remains sharper. The New England Journal of Medicine showed strong evidence that higher levels of education help more people stave off dementia longer, for a longer period of time. Could this be due to connections between our brain cells, made stronger from education, being drawn upon should declination of memory or thinking occur? Try something new such as learning a second language, playing a musical instrument or simply working crossword puzzles, playing cards or any game can be a challenge to increase cognitive reserve!
Even if you are a couch potato you probably have access to a computer and the internet and that just puts mental activity at your fingertips. Do you love to read, play games, chat, write on any topic there is? (We all know HubPages is a great place for that!) But if this is not your thing then get out in the world and find it. There are too many ways to not find yours.
3. Physical Activity
Scientist suggest a few activities could gain you at least an extra five years before the onset of Alzheimer's and though it may not sound like much who knows what may be discovered in that five years!
Exercise - Good for the body and also the brain. Make sure your doctor approves your exercise program. Physical exercise has been shown in research as a way to prevent and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia but now they tell us that even after dementia sets in, physical exercise can benefit the person living with dementia?
I like to look at it like this... No matter how long it takes you, you get to tack five years on at the end! Just don't wait too long to get started!
Three Keys to Beat Alzheimer's
Keep up regular daily exercise reasonable for your body.
Keep your brain exercised adding mental activity.
Keep your brain and body healthy with the right foods.
New Hope on the Horizon
Scientists have discovered a way of making medicine from olives that may cut the risk of Alzheimer's and even be a cure for the disease.
In just one instance a study author, Amal Kaddoumi, found that Alzheimer’s affects about 30 million people, but that the widespread effect is lower in Mediterranean countries. Research has shown that some olive oil benefits are a result of the abundance of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, known to be good for the heart. Then again research has shown heart-healthy fats protect blood vessels throughout the body, which includes the brain, helping to lessen the damage of Alzheimer’s and the other forms of dementia.
It has been discovered that a new Alzheimer’s drug can slow a patient’s cognitive decline.
Results of both these studies come as astoundingly welcome news to loved ones of the many sufferers diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The use of olive extracts in pill form is designed to take advantage of its superfood qualities, which is a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet known to boost heart health.
German scientists behind the study believe those who eat an olive-rich diet, as well as keeping physically and mentally active, are less likely to suffer from dementia. So we take a new step toward the cure that just could be!
Learning from a new report that maple syrup could cure Alzheimer’s disease, scientists are admitting that this popular pancake topping could soon be used as medicine because it stops brain cell damage that causes the disease, reports the NY Post. In laboratory-based Alzheimer’s disease studies, phenolic-enriched extracts of maple syrup from Canada showed neuroprotective effects, much like resveratrol, a compound found in red wine!
One study led by professor Navindra P. Seeram of the University of Rhode Island found that pure maple syrup extract “prevented the tangling of beta-amyloid proteins and protected the neurons in rodents’ brain cells, specifically the microglia, which are the primary form of defense against pathogens in the central nervous system.”
Maple syrup extract was also found to prolong the lifespan of a roundworm with Alzheimer’s. This may seem far fetched but scientists may be so close to a cure and we can only hope this is one positive lead for help in Alzheimer's and other dementia types!
Researchers are now planning to study whether a maple syrup extract can be an effective cure for Alzheimer’s.
Maple syrup protects two brain proteins, according to researchers; beta-amyloid and tau peptide.
Just this spring there will be exciting discussions on the research of this new found information!
I feel sure one day, in the not too distant future, dementia and the related diseases will have something just as simple as iodine is for goiter prevention, to wipe this disease out.
While Waiting for a Cure
Now we know that Alzheimer's is just a form of dementia and have such a better understanding, don't we? I had a doctor tell me that my mother had either Alzheimer's or dementia so his understanding was less than mine now that I know Alzheimer's is dementia. That was several years ago, though and we really have come a long way with the help of wonderful scientists and their studies.
There is not a cure but we have much to help us stave off these diseases until a cure comes along. We must get busy though, not wait until we start seeing symptoms. We have a blueprint or road map laid out for us to follow and we should begin on it right away. If a cure is just up the road a little way we have a much better chance if we do not let dementia take hold before the cure!
I have ordered Ginkgo Biloba I will take faithfully. Exercise and diet are already uppermost in my mind and intentions that I practice halfheartedly, but now I have a list to go by and look how long it is! Many great choices. I will most definitely be learning many new olive recipes and as I already have the oil in my diet I am one step ahead!
Now I will be using maple syrup for my sweet tooth! It is time to have fun with gaining those extra five years while waiting and watching for the cure to these dreadful diseases.
It makes me think of my maternal grandmother having a horrible looking neck from goiter operations so many years ago while today that little iodine in our salt protects us all from that malady.
“Olive-Oil-Derived Oleocanthal Enhances β-Amyloid Clearance as a Potential Neuroprotective Mechanism against Alzheimer’s Disease: In Vitro and in Vivo Studies”ACS Chemical Neuroscience, Feb. 15, 2013. German Research Center for Food Chemistrye
Gu Y, et al. Food combination and Alzheimer disease risk: a protective diet. Arch Neurol. 2010 Jun;67(6):699-706.
Lourida I, et al. Mediterranean diet, cognitive function, and dementia: a systematic review. Epidemiology. 2013 Jul;24(4):479-89.
Alzheimer's Association 2016 alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp
© 2016 Jackie Lynnley