Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. Alzheimer's disease (AD), is one form of dementia that affects memory, thinking, judgement, perception and emotional behavior and progressively worsens over time. Most people experience normal forgetfulness due to aging and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the next stage before the development of AD. Symptoms of MCI include difficulty performing more than one task at a time, difficulty solving problems, and forgetting recent conversations. Imagine losing the ability to work on homework and carry on a conversation with a friend or forgetting that conversation only five minutes later. Eventually, the progression of the disease results in loss of language skills getting lost in familiar routines (like getting dressed in the morning or baking cookies), and inability to learn new routines (like a route you need to drive to get to a new job).
People with AD often feel like their brain is a jumble of puzzle pieces
Common causes of dementia include a brain tumor or stroke that twist or even destroy nerve cells. The loss of nerve cells means the brain has a harder time communicating to the rest of the body. Unfortunately, because of the complexity of the nervous system, there is no cure for AD at this time. On the other hand, the goals for treatment include slowing the progression of the disease through use of medication, managing sleep problems, and changing the home environment to make daily activities easier to perform. Although these are all important, support from family members and dedication of caregivers are probably even more essential to maintain the behavior and personality of the AD patient.
Even though there is no proven way to prevent AD as it is commonly passed down from parent to child, there are a few practices that can be incorporated into a daily routine to delay its onset. For instance, comsuming a low-fat diet, eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, reducing intake of butter, increasing intake of antioxidants like vitamins E and C, maintaining a normal blood pressre, and staying mentally and socially active throughout life have been shown to help. Interestingly enough, females and those with a history of head trauma are more at risk to develop AD.
An interesting breakthrough in AD treatment involves the use of an FDA-approved drug that rapidly clears Amyloid from the brain and reverses cognitive and memory defects: