Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia and is irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. This type of disease debilitates those affected from performing simple, daily tasks. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, loss of cognitive functioning, among older individuals. Dementia has a range of severities from a mild stage that is just beginning to affect functioning to a much more severe stage in which a patient must rely on others for basic living.
According to the National Institute on Aging, there were almost 83,500 Alzheimer’s-related deaths in 2010, making the disease the sixth leading cause of death. However, findings from a 2014 study showed that the number of deaths may have been under-reported and the number of Alzheimer’s deaths may be as high as 600,000 in 2010 and may be the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are conditions that disproportionately affect senior citizens, as increasing age is the most important known risk factor for the disease. Data from the NIA says that estimates vary but many suggest that as many as 5.5 million Americans 65 and older may have Alzheimer’s, and this number seems to be trending upward. Currently, there are no known cures to the Alzheimer’s and while the time from diagnosis to death may vary, it is still a deadly disease.
While there is not one cure that can fix this disease, there are some preventative measures and alternative forms of treatment that can be used that may help to impede the disease and alleviate some of the symptoms associated with it.
Looking At Alternative Treatment
It is important to remember that when looking into alternative forms of treatment on the web or from friends or family that these are not guaranteed to work. There is a reason that there is not one solution to this condition that is widely accepted in the medical community. Many of these alternative treatments are based on testimonials and tradition, and perhaps some small body of scientific backing, compared to years of large, comprehensive medical and scientific research that can be used to verify a treatment effectiveness.
It is also important to note that some products out there may be listed as “medical food”. However, in order for manufacturers of these foods and dietary supplements to market their products as such does not require the same scientific research and verification's that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires for the approval of a prescription drug.
Proceeding with caution is the best advice when it comes to alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s and dementia, whether it be a form of therapy or a “medical food”.
Types of Alternative Treatment
Caprylic Acid and Coconut Oil
Caprylic acid is the active ingredient in Axona, a brand of “medical food”. This type of acid is a fat produced by processing coconut or palm kernel oil. The belief behind Axona is that when the body breaks down the acid into a substance called “ketone bodies” it may provide an alternative energy source for brain cells that have lost their ability to use glucose as an energy source.
Some believe that coconut oil alone can be used as a less expensive source of caprylic acid. However, there is little to no scientific evidence that backs the use of either method as a solution to Alzheimer’s.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). There has been research that has linked omega-3s to a reduced risk of heart disease and stoke and the FDA allows foods and supplements with two types of omega-3s, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), to label their products with a “qualified health claim”. It allows them to state there has been “supportive but not conclusive” evidence that these omega-3s can be helpful in reducing the risk of heart diseases.
There has also been research that looked into the effectiveness of DHA and EPA as a way to reduce risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Two studies reported in 2009 found mixed results.
The first study found that participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer's who took 2 grams of DHA daily fared no better than those who took the placebo. However, the second study found that those who took 900 milligrams of DHA daily scored slightly better on memory tests than those receiving a placebo.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are a number of alternative therapies and activities that are used by some to help treat people who have Alzheimer’s. For instance, music therapy is has been shown to have some effect on behavioral issues that are common in the middle- and even late-stages of Alzheimer’s. Another common form of therapy that is sometimes implemented is art therapy. Planning an art activity for someone
There are a number of other foods, supplements, and forms of therapy that many on the internet and others believe can be effective in preventing or alleviating Alzheimer’s symptoms. However, it is important to remember that none of these forms of treatment have any major medical backing.
Millions of people in the United States over the age of 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, and tens of thousand, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people die from the condition every year. While there is no established cure or solution to the disease, there are a number of alternative therapies, dietary supplements, and foods that have been said to help alleviate and prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia from taking hold or becoming to severe. However, it is important to note that most of these alternative treatments have little to no scientific research supporting it as an effective form of treatment. Living with Alzheimer’s can be hard, especially as the condition starts to worsen over time. Living on your own while the condition’s effects start to intensify can be difficult, considering an assisted living facility may be beneficial for you or your loved one. At Landmark Senior Living, we offer our residents the medical care and social interactions and activities that they require to live happy and healthy late into their life.