Alzheimer’s, Understanding & Preventing

Most people think of the elderly when Alzheimer’s disease is mentioned but people as young as their thirties can present early-onset symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Younger patients often dismiss their symptoms because they don’t consider the possibility of Alzheimer’s.

Just as many people make the mistake of believing Alzheimer’s is a disease only of the elderly, many also erroneously believe it is a normal part of aging. A certain degree of memory loss is normal as we age but Alzheimer’s disease is much more than simple forgetfulness. Forgetting where you put your car keys is normal, not remembering how to get home from the store is a sign of something more serious. Memory loss is just the tip of the iceberg where Alzheimer’s is concerned. Eventually the patient will be robbed not just of memories, but of the ability to talk, eat, and much more.

Contrary to what many people think, Alzheimer’s is a deadly disease. Symptoms create conditions which make it difficult for patients to maintain proper nutrition levels. Respiratory problems are common which can cause a deadly case of pneumonia to develop. Often, because of impaired cognitive abilities, patients engage in high risk behaviors that can have fatal results.

Although treatments are available for Alzheimer’s symptoms, there is no treatment to stop, or even slow, the progression of the disease. Despite what some people may claim within the alternative health industry, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Medications that are approved in the treatment of the symptoms help with cognitive function, language skills and behavioral aspects.

You may have read claims that Alzheimer’s is caused by adverse reactions to vaccines or by using aluminum cooking utensils. Medical experts agree that the cause of Alzheimer’s is unknown at this time. There are many common factors found in Alzheimer’s patients, such as heredity, environment, lifestyle, and certain health conditions, but research is still ongoing with no clear results ready to be declared as to the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

Many scientists are more interested in prevention rather than treatment and cure. At this time a healthy diet, positive social lifestyle and keeping the mind fit are considered helpful in possible prevention of Alzheimer’s. To create your own brain-friendly diet, consider including the following foods in your menu plan:

  • Green, leafy vegetables
  • Other vegetables representing the colors of the rainbow
  • Fresh berries, the redder the better (or purple or blue)
  • Whole grain breads and pastas
  • Raw nuts
  • Beans
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Daily: Drink half a gallon of water and one glass of red wine
  • Red meat (keep it at a minimum, less than four servings within a week)
  • Use olive oil rather than butter and margarine
  • Minimize cheese consumption to about one serving weekly

A brain-friendly diet can significantly reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s while at the same time reducing your risk of heart disease. However, diet is only one aspect in the possible prevention of Alzheimer’s. Regular exercise can reduce your risk further.

Alzheimer’s awareness is key to early detection and effective treatment. Some warning signs to be aware of are:

  • Memory loss beyond normal forgetfulness, such as forgetting where you live;
  • Planning and problem solving impairment to the point that detailed tasks become a challenge, like paying bills on time or balancing the checkbook;
  • Forgetting prior knowledge of common activities, like the rules of a favorite and often played card game;
  • Confusion of time and disorientation resulting in getting lost in familiar places;
  • Conversation becomes frustrating and more challenging;
  • Calling everyday objects by the wrong name;
  • Poor decision making that results in out of character behavior, such as not showering or dressing improperly;
  • Improper placement of objects, such as a hairbrush in the refrigerator;
  • Mood changes that are sudden, unexpected and inappropriate;
  • Social withdrawal from friends and well-loved hobbies.

If you or a loved one finds yourself described in the above symptoms, it may be a good idea to talk with your doctor. To evaluate you for the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease, your doctor will want to discuss your medical history as well as perform some simple tests that will evaluate your mental acuity, memory, and problem solving skills. If it is determined Alzheimer’s is a possibility, you will then be referred to a specialist, such as a neurologist. Early treatment will help you live independently longer so don’t hesitate to consult with a physician.

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