Can Alzheimer’s Be Prevented?

January 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured

Alzheimer’s disease is a condition affecting up to 4.5 million Americans. While there is no known cure, studies have been conducted that indicate there may be ways of preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The disease is characterized by symptoms such as forgetfulness, memory loss, and reduced ability to concentrate, and in later stages the sufferer may display anxiety and delusions, loss of speech and inability to sit up or walk. It is a slow disease with symptoms manifesting and worsening over the period of many years.

The now famous, ground breaking study went a long way toward identifying characteristics that would indicate the likelihood of Alzheimer’s onset later in life. 100 nuns have been studied over a period of fifteen years, beginning in 1991. Over the course of those years, their genes have been tested and analyzed, physical balance and strength charted, and cognitive tests run to determine how many words the women could remember several minutes after reading them, how many animals they could name in a minute, and if they could correctly count coins. The research shows that people who scored lower on cognitive ability tests when young were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s later in life. Early cognitive ability was measured based on writings done by the nuns while in their early 20’s. Those showing more “idea density” – the number of ideas expressed in the fewest number of words – and better linguistic and grammar skills had a much lower incidence of Alzheimer’s later in life. Scientists are of the opinion that good cognitive skills early on creates a sort of “neurocognitive reserve” which will be drawn on later, effectively preventing Alzheimer’s. Exercising and improving cognitive skills via writing, reading and learning – anything that stimulates the brain – may go a long way toward active, clearheaded and graceful aging.

There are a number of other things, as well, that you can do to help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. Many of these prevention techniques involve limbering the mind and working on memory skills long before Alzheimer’s onset is a danger. Just having a mentally stimulating job that involves creative thinking or manipulation of data is shown to have a connection to lower incidence of Alzheimer’s later in life. Doing crossword puzzles and playing card games were found to have a significant positive impact on later mental dexterity. Employ memorization techniques used by actors. Actors don’t merely memorize a series of words. They also combine appropriate movements, and evaluate the intent behind the words to be delivered. This “active-experiencing” method of memorization was shown to also improve the memory and cognitive skills in older people who were taught the technique. Limbering your mind now may promote a limber mind in your latter years.

Proper diet and exercise promote good health in general and may ward off countless problems including Alzheimer’s onset. The addition of fish oils, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C to the diet have all shown to contribute to a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s. Keeping cholesterol at a healthy level prevents build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain – a characteristic in Alzheimer’s. Finally, physical activity has been shown to prevent deposits in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise your mind and body, and make good lifestyle choices, as the only “cure” for Alzheimer’s as yet, is prevention. While there is believed to be a genetic component which would predispose someone to the risk of Alzheimer’s, awareness, early planning and mental exercise, and smart dietary choices may aid to reduce your likelihood of developing this mysterious and debilitating disease. A healthy mind and a healthy body now will make for a healthy mind and body later.

Alzheimer’s Disease

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured

Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that can virtually steal away the memory and the abilities of innocent people. It is tragic when it happens and, unfortunately, it happens to many people each year. Are their cures? Is there hope for individuals who are faced with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease? Let us take a closer look at it and see just what it is and why it is such a horrific disease to have.

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is a disease of dementia. It is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease affects the parts of the brain that control such everyday activities as thoughts, memory and language. Unfortunately, scientists and doctor’s do not know what is the actual cause of Alzheimer’s disease. They do not yet understand why it happens or who it will strike. What they believe is that a combination of factors contributes to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The largest risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease is in fact age. People who are over the age of 65 double their chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease every five years. It is thought that Alzheimer’s disease can be related at least somewhat to genetics. There is actually a type of Alzheimer’s, familial, that strikes individuals between the ages of 30 and 60 that is inherited. But, in the common form of the disease, there is no direct link that is that obvious.

What Are The Symptoms?

There are a number of symptoms that can be the first signs of this paralyzing disease. The first symptoms, though, are not obvious. Mild forgetfulness is often the first symptom to be seen. Then, it becomes more obvious when people begin to have trouble remembering more recent activities and events. Or, they may have more trouble remembering familiar people, places or things. As it progresses, symptoms of Alzheimer’s worsen to where individuals can no longer solve simple math problems. At this stage, people may not realize that they have anything wrong with them. Stress, over tiredness or just plan ‘old age’ may be blamed.

Symptoms become more serious though. As simple tasks become harder and harder to do, individuals realize there may be a problem and seek medical advice. Things like not remembering how to brush your teeth or how to tie a shoe become increasingly more difficult. They may not be able to think clearly, may become anxious or even aggressive. Sometimes, individuals will wander. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease will leave patients needing complete care.

The Outlook For An Alzheimer’s Disease Patient

Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that affects each and every person differently. It begins slowly and can take years to worsen in some people. In others, it is much faster. The end result is severe brain damage. The average Alzheimer’s disease patient will live between eight and ten years from the time they are diagnosed. Others can live up to twenty years.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Some drugs that are used early on in the treatment of patients can slow down the progression of the disease in some patients. Some medications are used to treat the symptoms of the disease which can help to make patients more comfortable. On the horizon are many new drugs and treatment plans, including stem cell research that can benefit individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease.

How Alzheimer’s Disease Develops

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured

Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that is typified by progressive weakening of cognitive skills, affecting all aspects of day to day activities. A person suffering from Alzheimer’s is likely to undergo severe behavioral changes
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Emil Kraepelin was the first person to identify the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Alois Alzheimer, who was a German psychiatrist, studied typical neuropathology for the first time in the year 1906.

The distinct and the most striking symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is amnesia. In the early stages, a victim of Alzheimer’s is quite often found to be in a confused state, and facing problems with short-term memory. There are usually problems with paying attention and in terms of spatial orientation.

The personality of the person affected usually undergoes a massive change coupled with frequent mood swings and the language of the patient may be affected. However, it should be noted that Alzheimer’s disease does not affect everyone in the same way,and this can make the disease quite difficult to diagnose.

In the early stages of the illness, patients tend to lose energy and their alertness of mind decreases but this change is hardly noticeable. Also, there is loss of memory and the person may become moody. Overall, the affected person becomes slow in responding to everyday stimuli. Eventually, due to the significant memory loss the patient tries to shields himself or herself from anything that they find unfamiliar, as a result the person can become highly confused and get lost easily and frequently.

In the next stage, the victim of Alzheimer’s starts seeking assistance to carry out those tasks that require heavy lifting. Their speech starts getting affected and quite frequently they stop abruptly after saying half a sentence. Depression, irritation and restlessness are some of the common traits during this stage of illness.

Slowly, the individual becomes disabled. They may remember past incidents but can’t recall the very recent ones. In the advanced stage it becomes difficult for the patient to distinguish between day and night or even recognize the faces of very near and dear ones.

In the last stage of the disease, patients merely exist. They experience total loss of memory and they are unable to eat properly and cannot control themselves to any great extent. Constant care is needed for a patient at this stage. The individual also becomes prone to other diseases such as pneumonia, infections, etc. Ultimately they become confined to bed and this fatal stage leads to death.

Alzheimer’s disease is not curable but there are treatments available that can slow its progress and there is promising research that may lead to a cure.