It seems everyone is worried about his brain these days. If it’s not the senior population who fears losing cognitive skills, it’s the younger generation worried they’ll see their parents decline and won’t know how to help them.
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly fades the person who has it from view—his own view and that of his loved ones. It destroys memory and thinking skills and at its worst destroys the recognition of family members and friends.
Currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., Alzheimer’s is inching up to third place behind heart disease and cancer. It appears as a kind of plague that’s creeping up everywhere. A customer of GreenAcres once remarked, “We’re living so long, we’re outliving our brains!”
It’s estimated that 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and it doesn’t just strike older adults. Recent articles on the disease say Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older people and as it progresses can change a person’s personality and affect his daily activities and human functioning.
There are other forms of dementia, but all affect the brain…and by extension, the people who care for those with any form of progressive brain disease.
From the Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet on the Internet, we learn the disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who noticed changes in the brain tissues of a woman who had died in 1906 of an unusual mental illness. “Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, Dr. Alois examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles).
“These plaques and tangles in the brain are still considered some of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease. Another feature is the loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Neurons transmit messages between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to muscles and organs in the body.”
So, the disease has been around a long time. It just appears to be exploding in the era in which we live because each of us seems to know a family member who has it or had it, or a friend who seems to be developing it, and it’s scary.
A customer was talking about her panic when she found she couldn’t recall certain words or even people’s names. She said she ran to her doctor ready to hear the worst, but her doctor reassured her she was only experiencing “senior moments.” Still the fear persisted.
So what’s on the medical horizon for those experiencing real symptoms of the disease? We turn to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease to hear the latest research.
- Ohio State University is conducting a study involving researchers at the Wexner Medical Center aimed at slowing the decline of problem solving and decision-making skills in patients using thin electrical wires surgically implanted into the patients’ frontal lobes to determine if a brain pacemaker might help.
- There is a study led by researchers at King’s College in London focused on Down Syndrome people who develop earlier onset of Alzheimer’s at the ages of 55 and 56, a good 20 years earlier than most.
- Researches at Brock University have found that trace elements of lithium in drinking water can slow death rates from Alzheimer’s. Rates of diabetes and obesity, which are important risk markers for Alzheimer’s disease, also decrease with small amounts of lithium in water.
- Researchers from the Harvard affiliated Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research (IFAR), in collaboration with scientists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Harvard Medical School (HMS), and Brown University, have found increasing evidence that the level of delirium in post-surgical patients is associated with the level of later cognitive decline in those same patients.
- A new study from the Multimodal Neuroimaging for AD Diagnosis (MULNIAD) study, which is a prospective study implemented at the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (NCGG), provides that hypometabolism in the medial prefrontal areas is specifically associated with Alzheimer’s disease-related nutritional problems, and decrease in fat mass may have a key role. This study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
We refer you to the GreenAcres newsletter to an article titled: “Better Brain Health in 2018,” where a doctor and nurse duo, James and Veronica Seberger, are doing amazing work at Cognitive Performance and Health in Wichita, KS. The Sebergers feel the No. 1 problem affecting the brain is inflammation brought on my poor diet, inactive lifestyle, nutritional deficiency and unhealthy gut.
The couple conducts brain activity mapping which can measure anxiety, sleep disruption, food intolerance and more. Quantitative assessment can be measured from 19 channels of brain activity. Once tested, a protocol can be developed to get you back on track.
There is research, there is testing and there is hope. And this is only the cusp of what medical and nutritional science will discover tomorrow.