Alzheimer's Disease (Old Timers) & My People

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), also known in medical literature as Alzheimer disease, is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death. It was first described by German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906 and was named after him.[1] Most often, AD is diagnosed in people over 65 years of age,[2] although the less-prevalent early-onset Alzheimer’s can occur much earlier. In 2006, there were 26.6 million people worldwide with AD. Alzheimer’s is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050.[3]

Unfortunately, my family has been affected by Alzeimer's disease.  We've lost loved ones to it and we have loved ones showing signs of it coming.  We sit and try and fix our face when a sign appears.  A simple question asked and discussed and then asked again within a couple of minutes.  With a normal smile.  No confusion.  Nothing to indicate anything else is wrong.   A good time being held by all and then...suddenly...that grip of fear squeezing the shit out of our hearts because we saw it.  We were there.  And we know what comes next.

And we're not ready.

Everyone has occasional memory lapses. It’s normal to lose track of where you put your keys or forget the name of an acquaintance. But the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease persists and worsens, affecting your ability to function at work and at home. People with Alzheimer’s may:

Repeat statements and questions over and over, not realizing that they’ve asked the question before
Forget conversations, appointments or events, and not remember them later
Routinely misplace possessions, often putting them in illogical locations
Eventually forget the names of family members and everyday objects

It starts out simple enough and gets worse.  Way worse than you'll ever be prepared for.  When you watched a beloved Elder furious and in severe panic because of their frustration in not knowing who are you any starts a crack in your heart that hurts.  FOR REAL HURT.

Because of how directly this disease has touched my family, I have a high interest in anything related to studying the disease.  I read something a long time ago which stated that since the disease was relatively "new" that the most likely culprit was diet.  As we progressed in the world of food preservatives, we regressed in many health related areas so it wasn't without merit that this was a very real possibility.  

I look at the diet of most of my family down South and I note the high fat content.  The dependence on processed foods.  The quick meals from fast food restaurants.  I think about how a body changes to adapt to nutrition starvation and begins to figure out how to fuel itself with the chemicals in the processed foods and then I think about the elders I have who aren't showing signs of anything except aging well.  And they eat mostly vegetables and fruit.  Lean meats.  They're not carrying around the belly fat.  Working out is a part of their daily routine more often than not and they are sharp with their New York Times daily crossword puzzle.  

We never really discussed why they eat differently than most.  They just always said, "I'm not eating that." and kept it moving.  Leaving it to us to make the comparisons and come up with our own plan.

Fortunately, my mother was very vocal about food and what she didn't trust.  Since my father didn't trust the government to do anything other than take from was easy to become food paranoid in our household.

Back to Alzheimer's.

Yesterday I read this article and it was the first time the things I'd been thinking had validity:  UCLA STUDY: NON-DRUG TREATMENT MAY REVERSE ALZHEIMER'S

The standout?

In the UCLA protocol, patients made dramatic lifestyle changes. They avoided simple carbs, gluten and processed foods. They increased their fish intake, took yoga and meditated. They were instructed to take melatonin, get adequate sleep, incorporate vitamin B-12, vitamin D-3 and fish oil.

Within six months, nine patients saw a noticeable improvement in memory. One patient, who was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, did not show improvement.

UCLA researchers say the findings suggest at least early on, changing a person’s metabolic processes can bring back memory and cognitive function.

I sent this article to all of my Elders with the following message:  

Thought you’d find this article interesting. I don’t know about you, but with so many of my elders having suffered from this disease, it makes me very nervous.

Do you have it in your family or your family history?  Does it make you nervous?  Is it something that you will focus on preventing?