Alzheimer's & Dementia

  • What causes this mind-robbing disease is not known, and there appears to be no cure or any treatments that slow its progression. 
  • Those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s have special needs:
    • Structure
    • Loving relationships
    • The ability to feel they are still part of the world.
  • As their cognitive process diminishes, they may have to go to a specialized care center, a nursing home or Alzheimer’s care unit.

  • Dental care and oral health can be hard for dementia patients. These tips are designed to help caregivers deliver efficient and successful oral care.
    https://www.carefreedental.com/resources/13-dental-health/166-dementia-and-oral-health-how-to-help-sufferers-care-for-their-teeth

    The controversy over aluminum exposure and brain toxicity is still ongoing.  Recent research suggests that aluminum is linked to neurotoxicity and even dementia.  (Immunologic Research online, April 2013). 

    Aluminum is found in higher concentrations in the brains of Alzheimer's patients (Journal of Alzheimer's Disease online, vol. 35, No. 1, 2013).  There is growing concern that aluminum is involved in the development of this devastating condition (Clinical Biochemistry, January 2013).  A preliminary study found that drinking silicon-rich mineral water helps remove aluminum from the body and may improve cognition (Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Vol. 33, NO. 2, 2013). 

    We have interviewed some of the world's leading experts on aluminum toxicity.  To learn more about this rapidly evolving topic, you may wish to listen to a CD of our one-hour show "How Safe Is Aluminum?"  You may order from Graedon's People's Pharmacy, No. CD-869, PO Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.  The MP3 also can be downloaded from their website.  http://www.peoplespharmacy.com  (Source:  People's Pharmacy, Joe Graedon, M.S. (pharmacologist) and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D., printed in The Spokesman-Review, June 4, 2013) 

Statistics
  • About 35 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer's is the most common type. 

  • In the U.S., about 5 million people have Alzheimer's.  That is 1 in 9 people aged 65 and older. 

  • A British study found that just an hour a week of added social interaction, and letting patients have a say in their care plan, reduced agitation and improved quality of life for Alzheimer's patients. This method also reduced costs, which has implications for Medicare as the Alzheimer's populaton is expected to grow in Medicare.

    Just an hour a week of social interaction
    can boost quality of life and reduces agitation for people living with dementia—and it saves money, too.

    Those are the findings of a large trial from the United Kingdom, conducted by several universities and the National Health Service Foundation Trust. More than 800 patients with dementia in nursing homes across London and Buckinghamshire were evaluated in the study. Two specially trained staff members at each home were trained to talk to the patients about their interests, and to help them make decisions about their own care. Combined with an hour a week of social interaction, it made a difference, the researchers reported.

    Our outcomes show that good staff training and just 1 hour a week of social interaction significantly improves lives.”  While the study took place in the United Kingdom, it has implications for the United States, where people over age 85 are the fastest growing population group. Alzheimer’s currently affects 5.5 million people, but is expected to affect 13.8 million by 2050. The CDC reported a 54.5% increase in the death rate from the disease in the U.S. between 1999 and 2014. The increase is occurring alongside rising rates of obesity and diabetes, which are known to be connected to Alzheimer's.    (Source:  Just an Hour of Social Time a Week Makes a Difference in Dementia, AJMC, July 17, 2017)

  • People who delay retirement have less risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, according to a study of nearly half a million people in France. 

    For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2%.  Someone who retired at 65 had about a 15% lower risk of developing dementia compared to someone retiring at 60, after other factors that affect those odds were taken into account. 

    "The study results do not mean everyone needs to delay retirement," said Heather Snyder.   "It is more staying cognitively active, staying socially active, and continuing to be engaged in whatever it is that is enjoyable to you that is important."  (Heather Snyder is director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer's Association.)

    Working tends to keep people physically active, socially connected and mentally challenged - all things known to help prevent mental decline.  This new study suggests that "people should work as long as they want," because it may have health benefits, according to Carole Dufouil.   (Carole Dufouil, scientist who led the study at INSERM, the French government's health research agency, address given at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Boston, , "Later retirement may help prevent dementia," by Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press, July 2013)

  • Good news for grandparents.  A grandchild for one day keeps grandma mentally sharp and keeps dementia away.  Research shows that grandparents who look after their grandchildren at least once a week are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.  The Baptist study showed that post-menopausal women who take care of grandchildren may help them reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline; however, if grandparents were caregivers for 5 days or more, their cognitive function declined.  Although an exact reason for the correlation isn’t clear, researchers speculate that regular social interaction can have a positive effect on seniors.
    “Spending Time with Grandma - Caring for Grandkids may reduce Alzheimer’s risk,” by George McIntyre, CBS This Morning, January 25, 2015.   

    http://wcrz.com/grandparents-who-babysit-are-less-likely-to-develop-alzheimers-video/?trackback=fbshare_mobile_top
"Grandma's brain benefits from time with the little ones," by Jessica Firger, CBS News, April 9, 2014
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/grandmas-brain-benefits-grandchildren-cognition/
How You Can Help
  • Prepare a memory book of family pictures, so they can go through those pictures.  That sense of structure and sense of safety and positive feelings will be useful to the patient.  It will also help family members remember who they were before this disease.
  • Do not abandon people who suffer from dementia.  While conversation can be challenging due to their loss of memory and constantly repeating questions and statements, visits still bring happiness and reduce their ever-present depression.  
  • Family input is critical in the screening process.  The doctor needs the observations of family members as much as the dementia patients themselves. 
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