posted: May 07, 2019.
Presented by: Health First Chiropractic
What is Alzheimer's Disease (AD)?
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, usually affecting only the elderly. It is a degenerative brain disease that starts slowly and gradually becomes worse. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.1 Generally people over 65 are diagnosed with this disease, but there have been instances of it occurring in much younger people. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this progressive disease to date, but the process can be slowed in some cases.
Information to date on what actually causes the disease is limited, but results of how it attacks the brain have been discovered from many autopsies of those who have died from it, or other complications. While most people develop some brain changes as they age, people with Alzheimer's appear to have greater change, particularly in the part of the brain that is responsible for memory. The cause of most Alzheimer's cases is still mostly unknown except for 1% to 5% of cases where genetic differences have been identified.2
In 2015, there were approximately 48 million people worldwide with AD. In 2010, dementia resulted in about 486,000 deaths. It was first described by, and later named after, German psychiatrist and pathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, scientists believe abnormal structures called plaques and tangles; protein deposits that appear to build in spaces between the nerve cells and inside cells, somehow block communication among the nerve cells. The destruction and death of these cells in turn causes memory failure, changes in personality and eventually lead to a person's inability to look after themselves. Gradually, all bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death. Although the speed of progression can vary, the average life expectancy following diagnosis is three to nine years.3
The earliest symptoms of AD are mental instability and loss of short term memory. A person may have memories of many years previous, but cannot remember what they did a few days, or even a few hours ago. Disorientation may occur, causing people with the disease to wander and get lost. Mood swings and changes in behavior may occur as well as loss of motivation. There can be confusion about events, time and place. As the disease progresses they may withdraw from family members and society in general or they may display distrust with family members, friends or caregivers which can, in some cases, cause anger and violence. Eventually loss of speech, inability to walk, bathe or eat will result. At this point in time the patient is usually bedridden and needs complete care.4
What Can Be Done to Minimize Risk?
Studies show that awareness is key in fighting against this disease. Proper diagnosis and a healthy lifestyle, including exercise and a healthy diet has been proven to slow the progress of the disease.
Already billions of dollars have been spent in trying to find a cure for this disease. Fundraising to aid research into the cause of Alzheimer's disease is ongoing and science continues to study the disease to find other ways to slow its progression and to hopefully find a cure.
As the causes are not definitely known, any treatment is also unknown, The best option is to diagnose it as soon as possible. This is sometimes difficult as the early signs can often be confused with stress, as the awareness that something is “wrong” can cause stress in the elderly. If there is a family history of severe dementia it is important to be aware of it. Memory testing and tests on the brain (MRI or CT scan) can be carried out to check for any problems.
It is easy to delay the emergence of Alzheimer's disease if you are aware of it. It is very important that you start thinking about your old age in your youth. With right lifestyle, exercise of both mind and body and active participation in society, and can easily defeat this challenge of aging.5
Studies have shown that those who engage in intellectual activities such as crossword puzzles, reading, playing board games or playing musical instruments show a reduced risk for Alzheimer's disease. Learning a second language later in life or physical activity is also associated with a decreased rate of dementia.6
Other possible aids to warding off AD consist of limited evidence that light to moderate consumption of red wine may be productive. Also, several foods high in flavonoids, such as cocoa, coffee and tea may decrease the risk of AD.
It is important to keep the body healthy in all aspects including maintaining a subluxation free nervous system and spine by your regular check-ups with your chiropractor.
Disclaimer: Information contained in the The Wellness Express newsletter is for educational and general purposes only and is designed to assist you in making informed decisions about your health. Any information contained herein is not intended to substitute advice from your physician or other healthcare professional. References and Sources: 1. “Dementia Fact Sheet N362”. World Health Organization. March 2015. Archived from the original on 18 March 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2016. 2. “What We Know Today About Alzheimer's Disease”. Alzheimer's Association. Retrieved 1 October 2011. While scientists know Alzheimer's disease involves progressive brain cell failure, the reason cells fail isn't clear. 3. Lozano R. Naghavi M. Foreman K (15 December 2012). “Global and regional mortality from 235 causes of death for 20 age groups in 1990] and 2010.”. Lancet. 380 (9859): ] 2095-128. doi: 10.1016/SO140-6736 (12)61728-0. PMID 23245604. 4. When Home Caregiving Ends: A Longitudinal Study of Outcomes for Caregivers of Relatives with Dementia. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 1995;43(1): 10-16. doi: 10.1111/j. 1532-5415. 1995.tb 06235.x. PMID 7806732. 5. Excerpts from ABC Article Directory- Garner, Greg- Posted 2012-08-19 6. Systematic Review of the Effect of Education on Survival in Alzheimer's Disease. International Psychogeriatrics. 2009;21(1): 25-32. doi: 10. 1017/S10416102080008053. PMID 19026089. Edited by: Sandra Taylor