The statistics are sobering. More than 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, the progressive brain disorder that starts with mild memory loss and can progress to a loss of the ability to talk or respond to the environment. Even the most laid-back older adult can’t help but is at least a little concerned when he or she remembers the shopping list they thought they had in their head, the name of the new neighbor they just met, or why. they cant remember the kitchen.
Reasons for hope
Still, there’s reason for optimism, experts say, as research is uncovering more clues about what’s going wrong and hope for a cure is still the target.
First, to calm the nerves, check out this list of what̵
“There is a lot of hope for the research that is now underway.”
“There’s a lot of hope for the research that’s going on right now,” said Christopher Weber, PhD, director of global science initiatives for the Alzheimer’s Association. Scientists are working towards several goals and hope to treat and eventually cure Alzheimer’s disease, he says.
Many drugs are approved and used to help treat Alzheimer’s disease.
Big news – a possible treatment?
The big news of late, however, is the FDA approval, on June 7, of aducanumab (brand name) aduhelm), an intravenous treatment intended to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by attacking beta-amyloid plaque in the brain, a hallmark of the disease. The drug’s approval has been controversial, as the FDA had previously rejected the approval and critics say evidence of effectiveness is lacking. The list price is $56,000 per year, but policyholders are not expected to pay that total.
Lifestyle changes can help
Unfortunately, according to FDA research, some populations are at particular risk. African Americans are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and are more severely affected. They also have higher blood pressure, which increases the risk of stroke, than other racial groups.
It is therefore important to stay informed about lifestyle and health factors and make lifestyle changes that can maintain brain health.
The habits of middle-aged people in particular have a major impact on brain health later on. “We say set the table during your middle age,” says Steven T. DeKosky, MD, a professor of neurology and deputy director of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. .
Especially important, he and others agree, are keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, getting regular exercise, and getting a good night’s sleep. “As many as 40% of Alzheimer’s could be reduced or eliminated with an aggressive attack on risk factors,” he says.
Even if you’re halfway through your life (about 30 to 60), you can do a lot to preserve your brain function, DeKosky says. “Make sure you have your blood pressure under control. Get your cholesterol checked, get statins [if you take them] are working. Start walking. Any form of exercise is helpful.”
“Take a good look in the fridge. If it’s mostly ready-made foods with a lot of salt and sugar — instead of the stuff in my fridge — try improving the diet by eating less red meat, less salt and more vegetables.”
What else can help?
- A recent study on sleep found that people who slept six hours or less a night in their 50s and 60s had a higher risk of developing dementia later in life.
- Keep the weight under control. No, a few extra pounds is not good for your memory.
- Turn off the television. A trio of studies just presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association found that moderate to high amounts of TV viewing during middle age were associated with lower gray matter volume (important for memory, movement, emotions). The longer the viewing time, the worse the effect on brain measurements.
You can also check out events on the longest day of the Alzheimer’s Association, on the summer solstice June 20, with fundraising events and other activities.
Take our survey: Would you try Aduhelm, if necessary?
Aduhelm, the drug that has just been approved, is a treatment, not a preventative. Despite the debate about how effective the drug is, would you be willing to try or authorize it for yourself, a partner, or someone entrusted to your care?
This article provided by Senior Planet and Older Adults Technology Services is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional if you have any questions about a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.