For those who have to watch someone they love slowly disintegrate before their eyes from the ravishes of Alzheimer’s Disease there is some encouraging news. There are ways to slow down the effects of the disease, and even push them back for years.
The leading cause of memory loss and dementia for people over 65, Alzheimer’s Disease affects over 300,000 people a year. The devastation is not just to the person who is suffering from the disease, it takes control of the lives of everyone around them as they watch the progression and try to find ways to protect and live with a long, terminal illness.
As the disease progresses, simple things like using a screwdriver or turning a doorknob become complicated. They go from being an adult to acting like a teenager, until eventually becoming an infant who can not hold their bowels or remember names and faces. The patients become frustrated as they understand there is something wrong with them but don’t know what. Mercifully, eventually the only ones who know there is a problem are family members and care givers.
The brain is not only the memory system, but the control center for the whole body. It processes what you see and hear, and not only tells you to jump, but how high. As the brain begins to shut down, so do all the functions it tells the body to perform, including breathing.
Drugs, like Donepexil (shelf name “Aricept”) are used to increase the brain chemicals responsible for memorizing. Supplements like Huperzine A, Vitamin E and Phosphatidylserine have been shown to slow memory loss as well as the destruction and reversal of brain cells that are associated with Alzheimer’s.
Keeping your diet healthy is essential to keeping your body in good shape, and your blood circulating, but it also has an effect on your brain. How you eat effects how your brain functions. A poor diet causes “brain fog” and the inability to remember anything. A diet too high in fats clogs the blood and causes the veins and arteries to slow the flow of blood and oxygen that gets to all parts of your body. Oxygen is important for good brain function. Food high in antioxidants, or “brain food” will keep you, your brain and your heart healthier.
Exercise to improve blood flow, and increase overall body stamina. Just walking a few days a week, or doing aerobic exercises at your desk, will make a significant contribution.
Brain exercises go a long way to improving your memory. Neurotransmitters in the brain connect to each other to make the brain work. When we age the neurotransmitters wither and die off. If we continue to stimulate our brain the neurotransmitters will not die off, and if they do others will find a way to circumvent the dead ones and make different connections.
Because the brain is able to make new connections, exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body (“Use it or lose it”).
It will not be easy, and will require patience and commitment to help your loved one retain their memory, but it is possible. There is no time to lose, however. The sooner you begin changing the lifestyle of the Alzheimer patient, the longer they can prolong their mental and physical life, and retain the quality of life they deserve.
In addition, this these exercises and eating habits are also a good idea for anyone — whether they are diagnosed with dementia or not. After the age of 50, a large percentage of people start to show signs of memory decline, and those over age 80 statistics are extremely high for developing the disease. Studies have shown that people who continuously challenge themselves with brain exercises and mental challenges suffer less from memory decline, even if they have full-blown dementia.
This article was shared by memory speaker Ron White
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