Saturday, April 21, 2012

4 Ways To Avoid Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is one of the most common form of dementia in the world today. Over 26 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with this disease and considering that it's currently irreversible and incurable, it's practically a death sentence for the people who receive the news. To make things more tangible, people generally live seven more years after their diagnosis of AD and after a certain stage, the procedures for "care giving" is simply to relieve discomfort until death. With Alzheimer's being such a serious complication, we suggest that you read the following timeline before death for the sake of knowledge and then continuing to the rest of the article.

Stage 1: Normal Function

This stage is pretty much as it sounds, your memory and cognitive abilities are only as limited as you've trained them. Considering that Alzheimer's is usually diagnosed at around the age of 65, you still have your whole life ahead of you if you're young.

Stage 2: Very Minor Impairment

Technically, this is the first stage of the Alzheimer's progression. At this stage, the person will only experience minor memory lapses and small everyday confusion. It's nearly impossible to detect Alzheimer's at this stage since the only symptoms can easily be mistaken for stress or sleep deprivation. Considering how minor they are, you'll hardly notice them; it could be as simple as those short lapses you get when you enter a room, or even which cabinet you keep you bowls in.

Stage 3: Minor Impairment

At this point, your confusion and forgetfulness may have increased by a few folds. By now, it would be visibly noticeable to the people around you that you've been becoming increasingly forgetful/confused. At stage 3, it's probable that you'll have slight difficulty remembering new things that you've just learned, such as names and words. (It could be as simple as stuttering for about three seconds while trying to recall a person's name) along with trouble organizing and planning for the future.

While possible, it is still difficult to detect AD at this stage.

Stage 4: Mild Impairment

By now, the clear-cut symptoms of Alzheimer's would be evident. Instead of simply forgetting a new person's name, you may/will suffer from moderate cognitive decline. Things such as managing money, planning a crazy retirement party or even recalling events that happened hours to days ago will become increasingly difficult. (Or at the very least, more difficult than before) At this stage, some people may become increasingly moody and emotional when in socially or mentally demanding situations. This stage is also called "early-stage Alzheimer's Disease".

Stage 5: Moderate Impairment

Considered as the main course of the disease,"mid-stage" Alzheimer's disease, this is the stage in which you begin (if not already) to lose your own identity. People at this stage may have difficulty recalling their own address, phone number, previous educational institutes, (which highschools/colleges they've attended) and may even require help picking the proper clothing for a occasion (like Labor Day) or season. However, the person's significant memories of their siblings, spouse, children are probably still intact. They can still eat and use the bathrooms by themselves.

One could imagine that at this stage, they may realize that their life is about to come to a close and soon enough, they'll lose the very essences of what they truly are until death. Along with that, the ones that they've loved will soon be forgotten.

Stage 6: Severe Impairment

Still considered as "mid-stage" Alzheimer's Disease, the people will begin to lose grip of who they really are. While able to recall their own names, they may worsen in their trouble with their own personal history. Visually, they'll be able to tell the difference between someone they know (such as their spouse) and don't know, but mentally, they'll begin to have problems putting names to familiar faces. Thanks to their rapidly decreasing cognitive abilities, they may become more forgetful of the environment they're in and lose awareness of it. (Such as sitting in their car at a red light.) Other than that, they may also begin to experience major personality changes that involves delusions and compulsions. (Like believing that their spouses are dead and someone has replaced them, or having the constant urge to check if the front door is locked.)

Physically, they'll begin to need help at the toilet: to help them dispose of the toilet paper and to wipe. In fact, they'll eventually slowly lose their ability to control their bladders and/or bowels. Unlike before, they'll experience a greater degree of forgetfulness and get lost more often, even in familiar places.

Stage 7: Very Severe Impairment

The final and last stage of impairment; at this point, the victim will likely need constant personal care. Their ability to carry conversations, control movement, and even respond to the environment would've reduced to nil. Although the possibility of saying a few phrases or words, normal communication is likely to be gone forever. In fact, the ability to smile, hold their heads up, swallowing solids/fluids, or even sit up straight will likely disappear as well.

After becoming almost 100% dependent on the caregiver to keep the person alive, the person can only await death; caregiving is now concentrated on making things as least painful as possible. Things such as bed sores[1] (Pressure ulcers that result from not moving whatsoever) and infections are likely to occur until death.

[1] -Severe bedsores can look like giant ripped-up holes on the body. The only treatment is the constant flipping of the body. (Protip: Don't look up images of bed sores)


Now that you know all seven stages before death, let's find out how to avoid it!

4. Get Enough Sleep

If you want to avoid such horrible fate, one of the best things you can do is to get as much sleep as possible. The thing about sleep deprivation is that it's one of few factors directly linked to Alzheimer's. Studies have shown that people that are sleep deprived are statistically in the "yellow zone" for Alzheimer's. The thing is, a protein (called amyloid beta) in the brain that is usually used as a marker for Alzheimer's, increases during the day/wake periods, and decreases during the night/sleep periods.

Studying? Not if you want Alzheimer's!

By depriving yourself of sleep, not only are you increasing your chances of Alzheimer's, but you're doing all of this to yourself.

3. Stimulate Your Brain

While I'm not suggesting that you stick a electrical probe into your brain, it's highly recommended to stimulate your brain with puzzles and challenges. Studies have shown that people that continue learning and challenging themselves throughout adulthood, have a decreased chance for Alzheimer's or at very least, slow the progression. What's the harm in a few couple crossword puzzles on your way to work/school?

Your sanity obviously.

Some suggestions include practicing memorization, learning new trades/arts, and/or breaking your daily schedule to try something different. (Also, learning a new language and/or musical instrument helps too.)

2. Exercise

Exercising is probably the easiest things you can do on the list. While some of us just aren't capable of finding dark matter in space or sleeping early at night. What you can do is to keep your mind and body sharp. According to some studies, you can decrease your risk for Alzheimer's for up to 40% by simply exercising. The more efficient your body is at throwing blood and oxygen to your brain, the better off your brain is at making sure you don't get dementia.

Try telepathically moving a soccer ball while floating towards it in a awkward position.

However, be sure to wear head protection or to avoid "head-only" boxing. Some statistics have pointed to a significantly increased chance of Alzheimer's for those who get repeat injuries to the head.

1. Have a Active Social Life

Along the lines of mental stimulation and exercise, having an enjoyable, active social life can really increase your chances of not getting Alzheimer's. Staying socially active within itself, will probably accomplish the other criteria's of avoiding the disease; as long as you don't sit with your friends in a dark room munching on pure lard while passively hating each other, you'll be as good as gold.

Except less valuable. Take that self-confidence!

The more intellectual your activities are in general, the more effective this method is. Going out with your friends to try some gardening has shown to be least beneficial. Overall however, it all ends with the simple phrase, "use it or lose it"; there is no current cure for the disease and research for it is generally considered to be underfunded.