Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that progresses from forgetting little things (e.g., keys) to forgetting how to do things you have done your entire life. In Alzheimer’s disease, brain cells lose their connections with each other and die, and amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles form in the brain.

Half a million Canadians have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. There is no cure, the causes are not known, and there is no conventional medical treatment to date that can stop or reverse it. The number of people with the disease doubles every five years over age 65, and people 85 and older have nearly a 50% chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Almost three-quarters of Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease are women.

Signs of Onset

  • Disorientation of time and place, such as becoming lost on your own street and not knowing how you got there or how to get home.
  • Memory loss that affects day-to-day function, such as forgetting things more often, especially things that have happened more recently.
  • Problems with abstract thinking, such as not recognizing what the numbers in a cheque book mean.
  • Problems with language, such as forgetting simple words or substituting words, making sentences difficult to understand.
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks, such as preparing a meal.
  • Poor or decreased judgment, such as not recognizing a medical problem that needs attention or wearing warm clothing on a hot day.
  • Misplacing things by putting them in inappropriate places.
  • Loss of initiative: becoming very passive, and needing prompting to become involved.
  • Changes in mood and behaviour, such as going from calm to tears to anger for no apparent reason.
  • Changes in personality: confused, suspicious, withdrawn, apathetic, fearful, and acting out of character.

The good news is that, although genetics plays a role in the disease, only 5–7% of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease have the inherited form. This means that the onset of Alzheimer’s disease is mostly related to environment and lifestyle.

Prevention

  • Eat a healthy diet by eliminating processed food, excess saturated fat, and added sugar.
  • Stay physically active, such as exercising for 10 minutes three times per day.
  • Reduce stress through activities such as laughter, socializing, and deep breathing.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Stay mentally active by engaging in new hobbies, reading, playing intriguing games, and staying engaged and interacting with people.
  • Treat diabetes and other impaired insulin-related conditions.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Treat sleep apnea and get plenty of rest every night.
  • Maintain a positive attitude.
  • Avoid head injuries. Falls are one of the major causes of head injuries in older adults. 

Naturopathic medicine can help can help in all of these areas. Make an appointment to find out which dietary changes and supplements would be most beneficial for you or your loved one.

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