❑ Keeping the brain busy may help slow down the progression of the disease. This means keeping active and intellectually involved, as well as getting plenty of exercise. Alzheimer Recommendations.
❑ Eat a well-balanced diet of natural foods and follow the supplementation program recommended above.
❑ Have a hair analysis to rule out the possibility of heavy metal intoxication as the cause of symptoms.
❑ Include plenty of fiber in your diet. Try oat bran or rice bran. Alzheimer Recommendations
❑ Have allergy testing performed to rule out environmental and/or food allergies.
❑ Avoid alcohol, cigarette smoke, processed foods, and environmental toxins, especially metals such as aluminum and mercury. Smoking more than doubles the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to a study published in the British medical journal Lancet. While recent studies have not substantiated a connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease. It is still wise to avoid aluminum intake as much as possible. All metals in excess are toxic to the body. Alzheimer Recommendations
❑ Do not drink tap water, as it may contain aluminum. Consume steam-distilled water only and drink at least eight glasses a day.
❑ If you are involved in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Seek counseling and support from the various agencies and groups, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, that are trained to help. Alzheimer Recommendations. They can teach you how to handle such things as difficult behaviors. With aggressive behaviors, for example—whether name-calling, shouting, or physical aggression toward the caregiver—understanding why the behavior occurred is the key. Some tips from the Alzheimer’s Association:
• Think about what happened just before the reaction that may have “triggered” the behavior.
• Look for the feelings behind the words. Alzheimer Recommendations
• Be positive, reassuring, and speak slowly, with a soft tone.
• Use music, massage, and/or exercise to help soothe the person.
Memory loss and confusion can cause a person with Alzheimer’s disease to become suspicious of those around him or her. If this occurs, try not to take offense or argue. But rather offer a simple answer or try to divert the person’s attention to another activity. For all caregivers, take time to care for yourself. The aging process is shown to increase according to telomere measurements in the caregivers of spouses who have Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer Recommendations. Make arrangements to leave your spouse to engage in things you like to do. Be sure to keep up your own diet and exercise regimen.
❑ A test that measures electrical activity in the brain and stores the information on a computer disk for analysis can be used to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.
❑ A skin test using lasers under development in Australia may provide earlier and more rapid diagnosis. Developed at the National Ageing Research Institute at the University of Melbourne. This test detects blood flow restrictions associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The test involves the use of lasers along with a mild electrical current that activates a chemical useful in assessing blood flow. Alzheimer Recommendations. It is hoped that the test will become a public screening measure in the near future.
❑ Using your brain, remaining busy, writing, reading. And learning new things are important overall factors in staying sharp and preventing mental disorders.
❑ Carbamazepine (Tegretol), an antiseizure medication, can ease Alzheimer’s disease–related anger and hostility, according to one study. Aggression was markedly reduced in three out of four of the Alzheimer’s disease patients in the study.
❑ Recent studies show that the progression of Alzheimer’s disease can be slowed or even reversed by reducing free radical accumulation through the use of antioxidants. Tests conducted in Switzerland over a twenty-two-year period produced evidence of significantly higher memory scores associated with antioxidant therapy.
❑ Omega-3 fatty acids were tested in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease to see whether they would help slow the progression of the disease. At the dose used (1.7 grams DHA and 0.6 grams EPA), after six months no effect was observed. However, patients still have a biological need for omega-3 supplementation, so include fish in the diet and fish oil capsules if desired.
❑ The herbs balm and sage are being researched for possible beneficial effects on brain chemistry. Balm appears to simulate the neurological receptors that bind acetylcholine. Sage contains compounds that are cholinesterase inhibitors. Current drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s disease are typically cholinesterase inhibitors.
Cautions: Do not use sage if you suffer from any type of seizure disorder, or are pregnant or nursing.
❑ Preliminary studies performed on rats at the University of Washington in Seattle indicate that cat’s claw, when mixed with other herbal extracts (such as ginkgo, gotu kola, and rosemary), inhibits the buildup of plaques in the brain. Alzheimer Recommendations.
Caution: Do not use cat’s claw during pregnancy. Do not take ginkgo biloba if you have a bleeding disorder, or are scheduled for surgery or a dental procedure.
❑ Some experts distinguish between a rapidly progressing form of Alzheimer’s disease that begins earlier in life (usually between the ages of thirty-six and forty-five) and a more gradual form that develops in people around the ages of sixty-five or seventy. Alzheimer Recommendations.
❑ The signs of alcohol abuse and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be very similar. For example, actress Rita Hayworth, who had Alzheimer’s disease, was at first thought to be an alcoholic.
❑ Research studies supported by the Alzheimer’s Association and studies done at the Department of Research at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama. Found that liquid aged garlic extract (Kyolic) might prove to be useful in the improvement of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. Kyolic protected the cells from toxic effects of beta-amyloid.
❑ Homocysteine, an amino acid that forms as the result of the breakdown of another amino acid, methionine, is a biomarker for the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Some scientists speculate that Alzheimer’s disease might be avoided if people reduced the levels of homocysteine in their blood. Although it has not yet been determined whether homocysteine itself actually contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. A more likely explanation is that elevated homocysteine levels are an indication of a severe disruption of methylation (a type of biochemical process essential for the repair and maintenance of genetic material and the production of neurotransmitters, among other things) in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Methylation deficiencies can result in severe damage to brain cells. Other researchers report that abnormal amino acid metabolism in Alzheimer’s disease causes higher homocysteine levels. This may lead to the neurological damage that occurs as the disease advances.
❑ A decline in the sense of smell often occurs as much as two years prior to the beginning of mental decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists at the University of California—San Diego Medical Center found that people with Alzheimer’s disease must be exposed to very strong concentrations of a substance before they can detect its odor. The rate at which the sense of smell is lost can predict how rapidly cognitive functioning is lost. Smoking can damage cells involved in the sense of smell, making this test less useful for smokers.
❑ Regular exercise throughout adulthood can reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Activities associated with reduced risk include biking, walking, swimming, and golf. Two studies in major medical journals showed that walking three times a day improved cognitive function and reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Those already with the disease should continue this sort of exercise program for as long as possible. Alzheimer Recommendations.
❑ Researchers at the University of California—Davis questioned the caregivers of eighty-eight elderly people, half of whom had either Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia, about their eating habits. Half of the people with Alzheimer’s disease had such a strong desire for sweets that their access to these foods had to be restricted.
❑ No treatment can stop or reverse Alzheimer’s disease. However, for people in the early and middle stages of the disease drug therapy using cholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), or galantamine (Razadyne) may alleviate some symptoms for a limited period of time. These are the first line of defense for drug therapies. They prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger important for learning and memory. A new class of drug introduced in 2003, which is currently the only available neuroprotective therapy, is memantine (Namenda), which has been approved for treatment of moderate to severe cases. However, this drug does not appear to be the “silver bullet” everyone has been looking for and, indeed, might only offer some slight relief to those patients already in the last stages of the disease. This drug regulates the activity of glutamate, a different messenger involved in learning and memory.
❑ There is some evidence that inflammation in the brain may contribute to damage caused by the disease. As a result, studies were being conducted on the effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to see if they could slow its progression. But at this point, one study on rofecoxib (Vioxx) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) was inconclusive. And another on celecoxib (Celebrex) and naproxen sodium was discontinued. Rofecoxib has since been withdrawn from the market.
❑ Because the beta-amyloid plaques appear to be in large measure the culprits behind Alzheimer’s disease damage, if a way could be developed to clear them out, or prevent their buildup altogether, the disease could be managed. Researchers at Lilly Research Laboratories and Elan Pharmaceuticals have discovered that certain monoclonal antibodies bind to beta-amyloid and clear it from the brain. In animal experiments, a treatment with monoclonal antibody M266 both cleared beta-amyloid from the brains of the subjects and reversed some existing memory problems.
❑ Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in March 2003 showed that levels of neprilysin. A beta-amyloid-degrading enzyme, could be boosted by means of gene therapy. This caused a reduction in the plaque found in the brains of the animal subjects. Another study, published in Nature Medicine, was conducted that pointed to astrocytes. Naturally occurring cells that protect neurons, as mechanisms that counter beta-amyloid. Researchers theorize that defects in the ability of astrocytes to clear beta-amyloid could be a contributing factor in plaque development.
❑ A research study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has shown that mice modified to lack the enzyme insulysin (which degrades insulin) had did levels of beta-amyloid 1.5 times greater in their brains than did control mice. Because insulysin is so closely tied to insulin and glucose metabolism. And because there appears to be a link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, scientists hope that modifying insulysin activity or some other aspects of insulin metabolism may assist in management of the disease.
❑ Research reported in the journal Biochemistry indicated possible therapeutic potential of anti-beta-amyloid proteolytic antibody light chain fragments. These fragments are able to zero in on the beta-amyloid and reduce its toxicity, and they can be introduced into the parts of the brain that contain heavy concentrations of the plaque by nonintrusive methods.
❑ A Phase I safety trial has been run on humans with a proposed vaccinelike drug that showed a lot of promise in animal studies. As these trials showed no ill effects on the subjects, a Phase II trial was begun in 2001 with 360 participants. Unfortunately, the trial was halted due to some severe side effects. But the results even of the foreshortened trial showed great promise.
❑ The drug appears to have reduced the amount of beta-amyloid plaques in one patient, and a significant number of those treated did develop antibodies to beta-amyloid, and showed little or no cognitive decline as compared to those who failed to develop the antibodies. This study has encouraged researchers to try different approaches based on the underlying theory because there did appear to be a positive effect caused by the drug. This avenue, immune therapy, shows much promise, and may be a path to an effective treatment in the future.
❑ Preliminary trials suggest that nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) may benefit those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. In a study conducted by Austrian researcher and physician Dr. George Birkmayer and colleagues, seventeen patients with Alzheimer-type dementia were treated with NADH for eight to twelve weeks. The patients’ cognitive function improved as measured by two standard tests. According to the Folstein Mini-Mental Status Examination and the Global Deterioration Scale. The patients reportedly did not suffer any adverse side effects.
❑ High doses of lecithin may be helpful for people with Alzheimer’s disease. However, a double-blind controlled trial of high doses of lecithin reported in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry found that there may be a “therapeutic window” for the effects of lecithin on people with Alzheimer’s disease, and that this may be more evident in older people.
❑ Women with Alzheimer’s disease have been found to have lower estrogen levels than their healthy counterparts.
❑ Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered that levels of choline and ethanolamine are significantly lower than normal in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Both choline and ethanolamine are used for the synthesis of phospholipids that are major components of the cell membranes of neurons in the brain.
❑ Scientists at the University of Kentucky found that levels of glutamine synthetase. An enzyme that controls the production of ammonia and glutamate. Were higher in a group of people with Alzheimer’s disease than in a healthy control group. Glutamate is vital to the brain in small amounts, but it can be poisonous in high concentrations. Abnormally high levels of glutamate have recently been associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and glaucoma.
❑ An estimated 2 percent of Americans have two copies of a gene for the production of a substance called apolipoprotein E4, or APO-E4. APO-E4 transports cholesterol through the bloodstream and also changes the form of amyloid in the brain. People who inherit one copy of the gene for the production of APO-E4 have an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease; those who inherit two copies of the allele are at even greater risk.
❑ Experts say that it is in an individual’s best interest to be told as soon as there is reason to suspect a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Early warning cannot prevent the disease. But it gives people time to settle their affairs and make informed judgments about future care and other matters.
❑ Alzheimer Recommendations. People who tend to experience psychological distress appear to be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who are less prone to experience distress. In a study reported in the journal Neurology, people who most often experienced negative emotions such as depression and anxiety were twice as likely to develop the disease as those who were less prone to experience these negative emotions. However, more research is needed before across-the-board prescription of antidepressants is approved to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
❑ The omega-3 fat DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is found in many cold-water fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel). Is known to have cardioprotective effects. Researchers at the University of California—Los Angeles School of Medicine found that genetically engineered mice fed a diet rich in DHA were found to have less brain cell damage than those fed a diet which substituted safflower oil, which is low in omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends at least two meals a week of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. While this is for good cardiovascular health. It is possible that this diet can also favorably affect people who have Alzheimer’s disease or who have a high risk of developing the disease. This is surely a case of “It can’t hurt, and it might help.” Alzheimer Recommendations.
❑ Anyone who cares for a person with Alzheimer’s disease may eventually find the job overwhelming and need support. For many, adult day-care centers are a godsend. A good day-care center should be clean. Safe (without glass doors, uneven or slippery floors, furniture with sharp corners, and so on). And have barriers at entrances and exits to protect wanderers without making them feel trapped. Food should be nutritious and appetizing. Staff members should be friendly, compassionate, and professionally trained to work with Alzheimer’s disease patients.
❑ There should be psychologists or social workers on the staff to help patients cope with the ordinary frustrations of daily life and to assist them in coping with anger and depression. A quiet room should be available where an agitated or ill person can be separated from others. The availability of other specific services, such as physical therapy, help with hygiene, family counseling. Or support groups for caregivers, as well as the usual activities of the center. Should be suited to the particular needs of the individual and his or her family. Alzheimer Recommendations.
❑ The calming effect of watching fish swimming peacefully in an aquarium is found to help people with Alzheimer’s disease eat better by helping them to concentrate long enough to eat well. According to Nancy Edwards, Ph.D., an associate professor of nursing at Purdue University.