I hope this article can help some people who are caregivers, or know of someone afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. It must be devastating to watch someone you care about slowly disintegrate before your very eyes, and you feel helpless to stop it.
Alzheimer’s is a progress disease of the brain, but it affects the entire body. Because it is progressive, the diagnosis at the onset of Alzheimer’s does not mean the end of life soon. It does mean, however, that there is no time to lose in finding ways to improve the functions of the brain through a variety of different ways.
Over 300,000 people a year are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the leading cause of memory loss and dementia in people over age 65. The disease is devastating to the people around the patient, and is terrifying to the patient. They are aware of changes taking place with their memory, ability to concentrate, and coordination in the early stages, and feel out of control. They become frustrated and angry as they feel themselves becoming more disoriented and confused.
As the disease progresses, simple things like turning a doorknob, or using a screwdriver, become complicated. It’s like watching an adult become a child. The brain tells the body what to do, and when the brain can’t perform that function any longer the body begins to shut down. As the disease progresses there are changes in personality, and eventually the loss of physical function. Eventually the brain forgets to tell the body to breathe and the heart to stop beating.
Drugs and supplements are being prescribed that can help to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, like Donepexil (Aricept) a drug that is used to increases the brain chemicals responsible for memory. Natural and homeopathic supplements can also help to play a role in slowing memory loss and brain function, such as:
- Phosphatidylserine – has been shown to regenerate and reverse the chronological age of brain cells by as much as 12 years, and improving the mental capacity in Alzheimer’s patients with the administration of 300 milligrams per day, divided into 3 doses (with meals is recommended).
- Huperzine A – slows memory loss without side effects. This is the active ingredient in Chinese herb “Club Mass” which has a similar effect on the brain to the drug donepezil, but without the cost or the nasty side effects like stomach upsets and liver damage. The purified ingredients of “club moss” blocks the breakdown of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter important for memory.
- Vitamin E: known to slow destruction of brain cells as well as build new ones. A regiment of 2,000 milligrams a day is recommended.
Drugs and vitamins are helpful in treating Alzheimer’s, but in addition there are other things that can be done to slow the progression and even halt it before it progresses to the end stage. Like any other organ in your body, taking good care of your brain goes a long way in building healthy tissue. A healthy diet, nutritional supplements, and exercise of the body and the mind play a large part.
- Exercise not only builds up your body and stamina, it opens the circulation of the blood to allow more oxygen to get to the brain. Part of Alzheimer’s disease is the closing down of pathways that circulate blood, so the more you keep the blood flowing the better your brain will function.
- Nutrition that is high in antioxidants and “brain food” will keep your body and heart healthy. A healthy heart pumps the blood throughout the body and to the brain.
- Brain Exercises continue to stimulate the brain, as well as improve the memory. The neurotransmitters in the brain are the connections that make your brain work, and your memory “click.” Studies have shown that brain exercises and memory games can actually create new connections in the brain, so this is a great reason to show that exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body. The more you use it the better it will be (The phrase “Use it or lose it” is not just an empty quote).
Some of this requires a change in routine, and that is always difficult. If caregivers, family and friends all work together with the patient, and make a commitment to follow through with patience, time and love, the Alzheimer’s patient can live a quality life for much longer than expected.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life. His CDs and memory products are also available online at BrainAthlete.com.
Alzheimer’s Association: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp
Alzheimer’s Training: Enhance the Quality of Life for Patients With Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias: http://www.crisisprevention.com/Resources/Knowledge-Base/Alzheimers-Care-Training?ppc=ITG060DCSE&gclid=CIqcgMrenqgCFQnrKgod0D1OIQ