Alzheimer's Dementia: What You Need to Know

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  • There are now 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and this number is expected to sky-rocket if there is no prevention plan put into place soon.

  • Every 68 seconds a person gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

  • It’s the 6th leading cause of death in America.

  • Americans are living longer, 20% of the population is expected to be over 65 years of age within fifteen years. 

  • 1 out of 3 people over age 65 will die as a result of Alzheimer’s.

  • 1 in 9 over the age of 65 currently have it, and 2/3’s of these are women.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia come on gradually.  There are normal changes that occur with aging, however memory problems that occur and affect one’s daily life can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s dementia.  Another symptom can be difficulty completing a familiar task in a familiar place.  A person with Alzheimer’s dementia will often get confused with time or place.  Sometimes one will have problems with words in speaking or writing.  Poor judgement, misplacing things, or inability to trace back one’s steps can often be symptoms of Alzheimer’s as well (Alzheimer’s Association, 2018). 

There are many ways to prevent the start of Alzheimer’s dementia as well as stall the progression once the disease has been diagnosed.  Diet and exercise are one of the main methods of prevention.  The brain requires proper nutrition, blood flow, energy, and care.  Diet and nutrition can prevent and help treat memory loss.  Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is effective in reducing high blood pressure and has positive effects on the brain.  The DASH diet is one in which a person would eat foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, while consuming whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts, as well as decreasing the intake of fats, red meats, sweets, sugared beverages and sodium (Alzheimer’s Association, 2018).  Exercise—It’s simple: if you want to maintain a healthy body and mind, you must exercise.  In our centers we have stay fit programming daily along with an excellent locally sourced, all fresh and organic ingredient meal. 

 Stress Management is another way one can help to prevent the start of Alzheimer’s dementia.  The brain suffers when one is stressed out.  Having positive ways to manage and deal with stress when it occurs is one way to make a positive impact on the brain.  The Adult Day Care Setting can be a great stress relief in many ways.  We offer socialization through the many groups offered each day.  All of our Guests develop lasting friendships while at the Centers.  Guests often report feeling less anxious over time.  Socialization, or enjoying other people's company and maintaining a sense of connectedness to others, is an important component of stress reduction.  The programming at our Adult Day centers offer many activities a day that will include a socializing component.  Reminiscing, playing games, the sewing or knitting groups, reenacting a play, and taking time in the namaste room for some meditation are just a few of the things we offer.  These activities decrease a sense of loneliness while promoting feelings of safety, security, belonging and enjoyment.  Social support seems to affect our balance of hormones. Adequate amounts of social support are associated with increases in levels of a hormone called oxytocin, which functions to decrease anxiety levels and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system calming down responses. Oxytocin also stimulates our desire to seek out social contact and increases our sense of attachment to people who are important to us.  Stressed people who have adequate levels of social support receive an oxytocin boost which helps them feel less anxious, more confident in their ability to cope, and more drawn to other people thus creating a cycle of socialization (Mills, Reiss, & Dombeck, 2018).     

There is a positive outlook on the horizon.  Alzheimer’s research continues each day.  According to Shannon (2018) an experimental vaccine that could hold off Alzheimer's disease showed promising results in animal testing, according to researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.  The research team has shown that testing in mice, the vaccine safely prevents the buildup of substances in the brain associated with the fatal disease.  If the vaccine proves safe and effective in humans, it could slice the number of dementia diagnoses in half, the study's senior author told USA TODAY (Shannon, 2018).  The vaccine works by prompting the body to produce antibodies inhibiting the buildup of amyloid and tau, two proteins that are hallmarks of the degenerative brain disease.  The vaccine is one of several promising treatments aimed at reducing the buildup of those substances before they become deadly plaques and tangles in the brain (Shannon, 2018).

Sources:

Alzheimer’s Association. (2018). 10 Early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs?utm_source=google&utm_medium=paidsearch&utm_campaign=google_grants&utm_content=alzheimers&gclid=CjwKCAiA9qHhBRB2EiwA7poaeBAY29d7lAZbYctoeg53rclQ58zgVbve6ZtNacs-oDwPpW1MG1yLtBoC_xQQAvD_BwE

Alzheimer’s Association. (2018). Adopt a healthy diet. Retrieved from: https://www.alz.org/help-support/brain_health/adopt_a_healthy_diet

Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation. (2018). Dedicated to preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Retrieved from: http://alzheimersprevention.org/

Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. (2018). Nearly every minute of every day, a new case of Alzheimer’s is diagnosed in the US. Will you or someone you love be next. Retrieved from: https://www.alzheimersresearchfoundation.com/

Mills, H., Reiss, N., & Dombeck, M., (2018). Socialization and altruistic acts as stress relief. Mental Help. Retrieved from: https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/socialization-and-altruistic-acts-as-stress-relief/

Shannon, J. (2018). Researcher: Alzheimer's vaccine could cut dementia in half, human trials may be next. USA Today. Retrieved from: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/science/2018/11/24/alzheimers-vaccine-aims-cut-dementia-half-may-see-human-trials/2097609002/