Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease. It starts slowly, but it worsens over time. Alzheimer’s disease is the cause of 60% to 70% of cases of dementia. It is hard to distinguish Alzheimer’s disease from normal age-related changes. However, dementia is different from normal aging. Anyone can misplace their things, especially keys, but people with dementia find them and have no idea what they are.
Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
- Memory loss. Don’t panic! It’s normal to forget names and faces occasionally. People with Alzheimer’s disease forget more and more over time.
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks. We can all sometimes forget why we open the drawer. People with this disease forget how to button shirts.
- Problems with language. We all have problems to find the right word occasionally, especially when we are in a middle of an important meeting. People with Alzheimer’s forgot the meaning of the words.
- Disorientation. People with Alzheimer’s become lost in a familiar place.
- Socially inappropriate behavior. People with this condition stop bathing or leave the underwear around the house.
- Problems reasoning. People with Alzheimer’s can be in a situation to forget what checks are for.
- Seriously misplacing things. People with Alzheimer’s put the things in appropriate places. For example, they can leave the keys in the freezer.
- Mood changes. We can all feel moody sometimes, but people with Alzheimer’s experience momentous mood changes without a reason.
- Personality changes. People with Alzheimer’s can change their personality to the level when they become different people.
- Passivity. People with Alzheimer’s are very passive, and they don’t want to do things they always enjoyed.
Risk Factors and Prevention
The best-known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are family, history, and genetic markers, and age. But, it is also very important to engage in mind-stimulating activities, because many studies show an important connection between brain health and heart health.
Another study has discovered that everything that increases the risk for cardiovascular disease also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. On the other hand, everything that reduces cardiovascular risk helps prevent Alzheimer’s.
Smoking. Smokers have twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s than nonsmokers.
High cholesterol. High cholesterol increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
High blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of Alzheimer’ up to 60%.
Obesity. According to the result from a Scandinavian study, obesity during midlife more than doubled risk of Alzheimer’s later.
Diabetes. Diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Animal fat. A diet high in saturated fat doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Exercise. Physical activity reduces Alzheimer’s risk.
Mediterranean diet. Diet based on fruits and vegetables, contains less saturated fat than most Americans eat. People who ate a Mediterranean diet have reduced risk to develop the disease.
Dietary antioxidants. High intake of vitamins C and E reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Antioxidant supplements. Antioxidants are very important. Use of vitamin C and E supplements reduce Alzheimer’s risk.
Alcohol. Drinking up to 3 glasses of wine a day reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Alternative Therapies for Alzheimer’s
Still, there isn’t a proven treatment that reverses Alzheimer’s disease. However, a lot of studies show that alternative therapies can be very beneficial.
Ginkgo (120 mg/day) effectively slows the mental decline of people with Alzheimer’s. This has been confirmed by many studies. The executive director of the American Botanical Council in Austin, Texas, Mark Blumenthal, says that ginkgo slowed cognitive decline as well as a standard pharmaceutical treatment.
This extract from a Chinese moss has a similar effect on the brain like ginkgo. Chinese studies found that it slows cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin-like Coenzyme Q10 is a potent antioxidant and it helps treat Alzheimer’s.
British researchers sprayed an Alzheimer’s hospital unit with lavender oil. As a result of this, Alzheimer’s patients became significantly calmer. Another British group achieved similar results using lemon balm oil.
Massage soothes agitated Alzheimer’s patients.
Chinese researchers treated people with Alzheimer’s with acupuncture (100 sessions). Later, their cognitive abilities improved significantly.
Omega-3 fatty acids
People who consume the most omega-3s from fatty fish and supplements have 39 % less risk of Alzheimer’s. So, omega-3 supplements (3 grams/day) produce some cognitive benefits.