Living with Alzheimer’s: how to approach life.
At Mom's we know that suffering from or taking care of someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease is not easy and we want to help.
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition associated with the degeneration of the brain, and it usually occurs in middle aged or elderly people. It is a common form of dementia and it affects not only the memory, but also every aspect of life. In the beginning the person may experience short term memory loss, confusion, dizziness, abnormal appetite or sleeping problems. As the disease progresses the symptoms increase, and many people need constant care.
It is important to understand that people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease do not always completely lose their capacity of thinking, so they can often still lead a fairly normal life with few important adjustments. From the start the person needs to accept and understand the disease, as this will make it easier for them to adjust to the new situation. The support of the family is one of the most important elements, as well as getting help from professionals, such as care workers, counselors and doctors, when things become difficult.
Nutrition is a basic part of anyone’s life, but it is even more important for people with Alzheimer's. Not eating enough, eating too much or not eating the right things can accelerate the development of the disease and it can increase the severity of the symptoms from one month to another. It is important to make sure that the diet contains the right amounts of essential nutrients every day. A healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy fats will help maintain health and delay the disease. Nutritional supplements are a great way to make sure that the body is receiving all of the required nutrients. Some of the most important nutrients that benefit Alzheimer's patients are as follows:
- Coconut oil and Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). In her book, Alzheimer's Disease What If There Was a Cure, Dr. Mary Newport talks about the benefits of coconut oil and MCTs in not only preventing and slowing Alzheimer's but also in reversing the effects. MCTs provide food for the brain in the form of ketones and coconut oil is a rich source of MCTs. Feeding the brain with coconut oil and MCT oil is a very important part of treating and preventing Alzheimer's disease.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids. When people hear about fatty acids, they automatically assume that they are bad and dangerous for the health. However, Omega 3 and Omega 6 are what we call “healthy fats”, and they are great for people who suffer from a degenerative brain disease. Studies show that taking daily supplements of Omega 3 can slow down the evolution of the disease, can improve the memory on the long term and can support the overall health of the patient.
- Antioxidants. Research show that people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease have a lack of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, cysteine, lipoic acid and others. These antioxidants can be found foods, but when this is not possible nutritional supplements are necessary. When the a person has enough antioxidants in their body their immune system is stronger and they are able to fight against a number of other conditions or minor illnesses. At the same time, this will slow down the degeneration of the brain and it will support the memory.
- B Vitamins. Vitamin B supplements are usually recommended for people who have a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as it is believed that they can delay the disease and some of the symptoms. In the past few years doctors have discovered that homocysteine, a neurotoxin, can damage some areas of the brain in irreversible ways. One of the main ways to decrease the amount of homocysteine present in the body is to take Vitamin B supplements. B Vitamins also help the body to cope with stress and living with Alzheimer's is not only stressful for the person suffering from the disease but also the caregiver. Whether trying to prevent this disease or manage the symptoms associated with it, B Vitamins are an essential nutrient that can be beneficial to the person with the disease and anyone else affected by it.
Regarding the lifestyle of the sufferer, from the beginning there are various changes that should be made to make life easier for all involved. If a daily schedule was not followed before, establishing one now and following it everyday will provide a safe secure environment and ensure that supplements and medications are taken at the correct times. A person with Alzheimer's needs their life to be very structured even in the early stages of the disease but more so as the disease progresses. Things like cooking and leaving the house should be done with supervision as Alzheimer's can cause confusion when doing even the simplest tasks. Discussing the situation with family, friends and even the neighbors might also be helpful, as these people can offer assistance when needed.
Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, but it does not have to be a life sentence, it can be controlled with proper nutrients, care and some patience. Prescription medications may be beneficial but are not always the right answer, as there are many people with Alzheimer's living great lives without taking any chemicals or by using a combination of supplements and prescriptions. Moderate exercise, a good diet with the addition of nutritional supplements and a safe environment can provide a noticeable improvement in the life of a person suffering from Alzheimer's and those around them.
Balch, P. A., & Balch, J. F. (2000). Prescription for Nutritional Healing (3rd Edition ed.). (A. C. Tecklenberg, Ed.) New York, New York , United States of America: Penguin Putnam Inc .