By reducing or eliminating as many of the risk factors as possible, it should be possible to greatly reduce your chances of developing Alzheimers and other dementias. Studies on the results of various treatments have been mixed and more research is needed. It is important to talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment for Alzheimer’s (even for over-the-counter treatments), as some of these may even be harmful in certain circumstances.
When diagnosed and treated for Alzheimer’s, you will need to have regular follow-up visits with your health care team.
In addition to regular checkups for overall health, your doctor will also want to regularly assess your level of daily functioning, mental status, mood, emotional state, and the status of your caregiver(s). Emotional and psychological support is also very important for those affected by Alzheimer’s. Ask your health care provider to recommend Alzheimer’s support groups in your area. Consider buying a portable GPS (Global Positioning System)tracking unit. They are small enough to tuck into a pocket and last for five to seven days before they need to be recharged and weve seen some nice ones for under $250. Make sure you’re wearing the GPS unit before you go out. If you lose your bearings, your caretaker or partner will be able to discover your location in minutes.
Keep Hope Alive
It is worthwhile to maintain a positive attitude. While, currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, new drugs and treatments are regularly becoming available. Research is continuing all around the world, and the next breakthrough may be just around the corner.
Research conducted over the past decade indicates that a healthy lifestyle and regular physical and mental activity may help delay the onset of Alzheimers Disease. In addition, you will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Physical activity, good nutrition, and social interaction are important for keeping Alzheimer’s patients as functional as possible. Maintaining a calm, safe, structured environment also helps patients feel better and remain independent longer.
Although researchers do not yet understand many of the cellular processes that lead to Alzheimers, it appears that a healthy lifestyle can at least help delay its onset. For example :
- Healthy diet may be able to control various Alzheimers risk factors such as high cholesterol levels and diabetes.
- Exercise may help manage cardiovascular risk factors, increase blood flow to the brain and stimulate nerve cell growth and survival.
- In general, what is good for the heart is also good for the mind.
A number of studies have reported that mental and social activities, such as reading, dancing, doing crosswords, painting, playing music, and singing in a choir could delay the onset of dementia. It has been proposed that such activities increase brain activity, stimulate establishment of new connections between nerve cells and may even result in the production of new nerve cells.
Over the years of mental stimulation a brain can build many connections between nerve cells. When such an active brain becomes affected by Alzheimer’s disease some of these connections are disrupted, but the brain may be able to re-route the flow of information to intact connections and compensate for the death of other nerve cells. Because of this, active brains that have many connections between nerve cells, tend to remain free of the symptoms of dementia for longer. In contrast, a flow of information in an inactive brain, that has few connections between nerve cells, is easily disrupted at the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
A recent study conducted in China found that a herbal extract improved cognitive function in people with mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor to Alzheimer’s. The extract, known as GETO (for ginseng, epimedium herb, thinleaf milkwort root and two other herbs), has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine.
Recent studies at Japan’s University of Tsukuba have found that an exercise program incorporating low-intensity calisthenics also improved the memory in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment.
The calisthenics, called Furfuri-Guppa, were combined with singing. After one year in the exercise intervention program, 70 of participants showed a significant improvement in memory.