Recent studies have estimated Alzheimer's disease to be the third leading cause of death among the elderly, just behind cancer and heart disease, affecting more than 5 million Americans today. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder of the brain that compromises memory and cognitive functioning. Degenerative changes occur in the brain, making every day activities more and more challenging until the person becomes unable to care for themselves. Additionally, Alzheimer's is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly population, accounting for 60%-70% of dementia cases, which results in further loss of cognitive functioning. Even the easiest, most commonly performed tasks in a person's life become impossible.
Studies have shown Alzheimer's begins to affect the brain about a decade or more before the cognitive decline begins. In fact, no symptoms are often observed until much damage has already been done. Most of the time, symptoms first appear in a person's mid-60s. The hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory formation, is affected first. Early signs of Alzheimer's differ from case to case, however early symptoms include:
- Memory loss - Confusion about where the person is - Wandering or getting lost - Loss of ability to problem solve - Loss of ability to plan - Changes in mood - Easily made confused, upset, or suspicious - Anxiety - Depression - Easily made upset outside of comfort zone - Difficulty with regular everyday tasks - Confusion with depth perception and other spatial relationships - Language issues - Writing issues - Losing items - Inability to retrace steps - Poor judgment - Withdrawal from social activities
• Reduce lifestyle stressors and establish boundaries for mental well-being. • Do brain stimulating exercises like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and language learning, as well as physical exercises like ping pong, tennis and dancing that strengthen connections between new brain cells. • Get enough sleep and incorporate regular times for relaxation; take power naps, if possible. • Prioritize a good night’s sleep; 8 hours nightly with no electronic distractions starting 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. • Stay socially active and engaged. • Stop smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke as much as possible. • Do at least 30 minutes a day of walking or enjoyable exercise to assist with learning and memory consolidation and consider weight-resistance training to increase BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor).
Dietary Tips and Caveats:
• Eat to improve and optimize gut health because the health of the digestive system is intimately connected to brain health. • Limit or avoid stimulants and potentially neurotoxic compounds like caffeine, alcohol, aspartame and MSG. • Consume foods that are rich in healthy, anti-inflammatory fats and antioxidants such as avocados, blueberries,coconut oil, walnuts, pastured egg yolks, green leafy vegetables, salmon, and more. • Add herbs and spices such as rosemary, turmeric, holy basil, ginger, and cinnamon to foods. • Support blood sugar balance by avoiding foods that spike blood sugar such as high-sugar snacks and beverages (includes sodas and fruit juices), refined carbohydrates, and high fructose corn syrup; avoid excess sugar to prevent accumulation of the toxic by-product, acetaldehyde. • Aim for 9 servings per day of skin-on fruits and vegetables rich in polyphenols that reduce inflammation. Eat organic as much as possible to avoid pesticides which have been linked to Alzheimer’s risk.
When can Neurofeedback be helpful?
If early symptoms are recognized and Alzheimer's is diagnosed within the mild stage of the illness, neurofeedback can be utilized to maintain cognitive ability, including the preservation of memory and reasoning. Although it cannot reverse structural damage in the brain that has already occurred due to the illness, neurofeedback focuses on training parts of the brain that are still healthy and functioning to prevent further degradation and maximize their function. Studies have shown that patients not participating in neurofeedback sessions show further declination of brain function. However, patients who are participating show improvement in memory, reasoning, incontinence, and language, all while experiencing less confusion overall. Neurofeedback patients are able to stabilize their cognitive function, leading to this increased ability of recognition and remembering information.
How Can Chiropractic Care Help?
Chiropractic care focuses on the health of the central nervous system. The human brain is major organ in the central nervous system. Doctors of chiropractic are specifically educated and trained to identify and treat problems with the nerves of the human body. When your central nervous system is healthy, all systems of the body work properly. A subluxation can impair or damage nerves throughout your body. We are able to precisely identify and remove subluxations. This restores the health of your nerves and the normal function of the systems within your body those nerves control. Again, there is not cure at this time, Chiropractic care will allow your body to work at it's innate state and function the best it can during this time.