Alzheimer’s disease has been the disastrous one that causes countless number of families to suffer every year. In A Rare Success against Alzheimer’s by Miia Kivipelto, a professor of clinical geriatrics at Sweden’s Karolinska Institue and Krister Hakansson, a researcher of neurobiology and a psychology, they report that by 2050, about 60 to 70 percent of more than 130 million dementia patients will have Alzheimer’s disease. As we may be aware, most patients belong to the elderly, which makes it more difficult for their family to take care of them. Much research is being processed with the hope of finding a cure for the disease.
What is a true definition of Alzheimer’s? In 1960, a German physician named Alois Alzheimer met Auguste D., a patient with heavy memory loss having suspicions about her family. Dr. Alzheimer found “dramatic shrinkage” and “abnormal deposits” staying in and around never cells. Alzheimer’s disease is considered as a most common form of dementia, which is a terminology term to describe various diseases and conditions related to deteriorating brain cells. Nowadays, we know that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. It is fatal.
The disease lasts for three stages: Mild, Moderate, and Severe Alzheimer’s disease. Each stage is associated with particular symptoms and signs. In Mild Alzheimer’s disease, individuals are still able to live independently, but they have difficulty remembering names, coming up with the right word, or finding their precious objects. The next stage lasts the longest and requires much from family and medical care. The patients’ mood is unstable and difficult to read. The individuals now forget their own history, forget most things such as telephone number or house address, and become withdrawn from society. In this stage, most care should be catered to the patients. Family should watch them closely. The patients may wander and get lost. In the last stage – Severe Alzheimer’s disease, the individuals completely depend on medical care. they have greatly hard communication with others. Most time they will be at a loss for word. They are losing awareness of their surroundings and experiencing changes in physical abilities including walking, sitting, and swallowing. Medical care is greatly needed because the patients are also more vulnerable to other diseases.
Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s today, much research suggests some preventions we can take to get away with this disease. Scientists and researchers are not proving any prevention method, instead those suggestions are based on research, experiment, and statistics. From 2009 to 2011, according to Miia Kivipelto and Krister Hakansson, a trial named FINGER (abbreviation for the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability consisted of 1260 men and women from 60 to 77 ages. There were two groups: control group including 629 people and treatment group (aka. Intervention group) 631. All participants were assigned randomly.
The experiment as designed to test a total of three effects: balanced diet, physical exercise, and cognitive training. These three effects were monitored while the participants were provided with well-being advice and cardiovascular health check. The control group would receive health advice and cardiovascular check only, but be referred to a physician if health problem betided them.
The result was quite astonishing. After two years, both groups gained significant improvement on their cognitive performance. However, the intervention group benefited 25 percent more than the control one. They also reduced the risk of withering mental strength by 30 percent. For some cognitive activities such as memory task (remembering a long list for example), mental process, and executive function, the treatment group did perform far better than the control group. Just as a law in chemistry, these results tell (but do not prove) us that these factors can be used in our life to prevent Alzheimer’s. Much research have been still being continued to find not only the cure but also the methods (proved) for prevention.
From the trial mentioned above, we can deduce that by exercising regularly with a healthy diet, Alzheimer’s disease somewhat may be prevented far in late life. Physical may increase the intake of oxygen; therefore, brain cells are kept in the adequate energy flow. About diet, in the trial mentioned above, the diet is balanced in the nutrition of “protein, fat, carbohydrates, dietary fibers and salt.” The participants were also restricted on “trans-fatty acids, refined sugar, and alcohol”. The trial focused on the consumption of more fruits, vegetables, and the like. Physical exercise and a healthy diet would absolutely boost the cardiovascular status which is one of the effects studied on Alzheimer’s.
Besides, the study suggests that training our mental health may lower the risk of the Alzheimer’s disease. And there are bunch of ways we can do. Chess can be mentioned. Generally, any cognitive activity would count, even communication and socializing. One of my proud hobbies is to learn guitar and piano. I am amateur, but the more I learn, the more technique I need to acquire and understand. Playing instruments not only helps us relax but also sharpens our mind in some ways.
Kivipelto, Miia & Håkansson, Krister. “A Rare Success against Alzheimer’s”. Scientific American April. 2017: 32-37.
Major Milestones in Alzheimer’s and Brain Research. Alz.org. Alzheimer’s Association.