Courtesy of Blackdoctor.org

Alzheimer’s affects all of us. If you don’t know someone personally who has it, you’ve probably heard of what it does. A progressive neurological disease, Alzheimer’s can turn a sharp, healthy mind into a shadow of its former self. 

Nothing quite compares to watching a loved one deteriorating, to the point where they don’t even recognize you. 

Fortunately, many treatments can address the symptoms and delay the progression. And now, a new medication may even offer groundbreaking results… 

Understanding Alzheimer’s

The most prevalent form of dementia, Alzheimer’s worsens over time as the brain shrinks and its cells die. With this depletion of brain cells, sufferers exhibit a decrease in memory, thinking, and the ability to socialize. Their behaviors may change significantly, often affecting their capacity to care for themselves.

In the later stages, people with Alzheimer’s may completely lose the ability to function on their own. If you notice an elder in your life becoming overly forgetful, irrational, and confused, it may be time to speak to a doctor. Mood swings, depression, and social isolation are also common in people with Alzheimer’s. 

Although the causes of the disease are not fully understood, the dominant theory today considers the role of certain proteins in the brain. As these proteins build up, they become toxic, causing the many symptoms we see and know.

Of course, many factors affect the onset of Alzheimer’s. Family history, age, substance abuse, heart health, Down Syndrome, and even exposure to air pollutants may all increase the risk of developing the disease. 

How to Treat Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is typically treated with a class of drugs we call cholinesterase inhibitors. Medications such as Aricept can help at all stages of Alzheimer’s, even when it’s advanced. These cholinesterase inhibitors work by blocking the breakdown of a crucial neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. 

Acetylcholine is vital for healthy memory, attention, learning capacity, and more.

Beyond medication, some supplements are also linked to improved symptoms. For instance, curcumin (commonly found in the spice turmeric) may remove plaques in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s. Other natural supplements, such as

the Omega-3 fats from fish, may also help slow the progression of the disease. 

Lifestyle changes are also crucial.

Simple things like getting enough sleep and sunlight, controlling weight, moderately exercising, and reducing alcohol and drugs may all play a role in managing Alzheimer’s symptoms. 

A healthy social life is especially important, as these interactions boost a protein called BDNF, which is linked to memory and learning! The trick is to keep the brain healthy, whether that be through crossword puzzles, stimulating conversations, or simply avoiding things that cause degeneration.

But what about people who are further down the line? What about those with Alzheimer’s who are experiencing late-stage struggles, and who can no longer function on their own and depend solely on family and friends? 

There may just be help for them yet…

#AlzheimersAwareness #EndAlz #MemoryLoss