Memory loss is something that affects more than 5 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control, so it is a very real threat to anyone who is aging. For the past 100 years, experts have searched for a cure, to no avail. In a 2014 narrow and focused study of ten people, however, nine of the participants involved had significant improvement in their memories during the three to six month program. This is just the beginning of the strides the experts need to make on this debilitating disease, but it is a move in the right direction.
A Complex Therapeutic Program
The program involved in the study is one conducted by the UCLA Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research as well as the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. The results were published in the Journal Aging by the author of the study, Dale E.Bredesen. It is the very first program to show a positive improvement in Alzheimer's Disease. The program involves a variety of aspects of a person's life, including:
The study found that a more complex approach to all aspects of Alzheimer's and what it does to a person's brain is better able to help a person than a drug that only targets a single area of the person's brain, since Alzheimer's is such a complex disease.
The Standard Thought on Alzheimer's
The standard school of thought regarding why Alzheimer's occurs is the presence of excessive plaque and tangles. Plaques are excessive proteins, specifically beta-amyloid proteins, that build up in the middle of cells. Tangles are fibers of a different protein called tau that accumulates inside the cells. The presence of both of these proteins is normal, but when they are excessive in nature, the person begins to show signs of Alzheimer's Disease. This standard school of thought shows that Alzheimer's is a result of excessive toxins in the brain, which any drug developed thus far has been designed to try to eliminate.
The New Thought on Alzheimer's
The study conducted by UCLA and the Buck Institute brings to light new thought on Alzheimer's treatment. The study showed that the beta-amyloid did pose a threat to those with excessive amounts of this protein, but that the proteins did not cause just a single problem. Instead, they caused a multitude of problems throughout a person's brain, making multiple issues that require many different treatments. In other words, one drug will not do the trick - there are multiple facets of the disease that need to be covered in order to touch on each of the issues that occur.
A Personalized Program
What it all comes down to is extensive testing and determining the root cause of each person's run with dementia. Five different people might have dementia or Alzheimer's and each one might have a different cause of the disease. Each of these patients would then have a customized treatment plan that might include changes in diet, the elimination of various nutrients (for example, gluten), stress reduction techniques, better sleep patterns, a new exercise program, an enhanced supplement regimen, and better oral health care routines. This is just a sample of what a patient might expect when given a personalized approach to minimizing the effects of Alzheimer's Disease.
The bad news is that there is a lot of work involved in trying to reverse Alzheimer's Disease. Because the treatment is so multi-faceted, it not only takes a lot of work on the medical professional's part, but also on the part of the person suffering from dementia. Changing eating, sleeping, exercise patterns, and implementing stress management techniques, not to mention the addition of supplements and medications, each of which need to be taken at specific times, makes for a complex treatment plan. What is more, the complex treatment plan must last for several months before any determinations can even be made regarding its success. The good news, however, is that the only side effects experienced are good ones. All the changes made in the person's lifestyle are healthy ones.
The studies continue, and more and more breakthroughs will no doubt occur. This is much needed, because Alzheimer's Disease and dementia affect millions of people every year, and they are expected to affect more than 14 million people by the year 2050. This is not something to take lightly. If a family member notices signs of this disease in an elderly loved one, it is very important to get him or her the help needed right away to help minimize the depths of the disease and to hopefully find a way to reverse it.
Alzheimer's Association. What is Alzheimer's? Available at http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp. Accessed on June 26, 2016.
Bredesen, D. E. (Septermber 2014). Reversal of cognitive decline: a novel therapeutic program. Aging, 6(9): 707-717.
Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Memory Loss Associated with Alzheimer's Reversed for the First Time. Available at http://www.buckinstitute.org/buck-news/Memory-loss-associated-with-Alzheimers-reversed. Accessed on June 26, 2016.