Alzheimer’s Disease: Prevention and Myths!

Many of us are fortunate to have elders living with us, showering their blessings constantly upon our wretched heads and flooding our lives with love. The amazing feeling of receiving a tight hug from grandma or an afternoon when you play an intense game of Chess with your mother is simply unparalleled. Nothing is more unfortunate than the same grandparents or parents not being able to recognize you, or the subtle and painful realization that their personalities is dissolving into oblivion. The entire family suffers unspeakable emotional trauma. Added to that, frequent hospital visits leave every family member heart broken.

Losing someone so dear, slowly and steadily is undoubtedly the most upsetting thing about Alzheimer’s. Let us know a thing or two about this heartbreaking disease, so that we can rid our minds of useless notions that lead us astray.

Myths:

  • Alzheimer’s is a disease of the old.

This myth’s solemn truth will depend upon your definition of the word ‘old’. ‘while it is true that Alzheimer’s disease mostly sets in ages later than 60, there is a variant of the disorder named ‘Early Onset Alzheimer’s’ Disease’’. This means that it can be found in the 50s, sometime even as early as the 40s. Yes, they are rare occurrences (less than 1% of cases), but they can lead to wrong diagnoses, and hence mean doom for the poor patient.

 

  • Alzheimer’s is caused by Influenza Vaccination.

 

No, there have been a deluge of studies that had the sole purpose of studying the effect of annual Influenza shots on the elderly and its association with even an iota rise in Alzheimer’s incidence. The plain truth remains that there is no linkage between the two, and hence people should continue getting Influenza vaccinations.

Okay, here I am deviating from our current topic, but I would like to use this opportunity to sensitize you about Flu vaccinations among the elderly. The point is, our elders have a weaker immune system than us, and it is only waning as their age progresses. To top it all, a vast majority of us live in highly polluted cities, which are also overcrowded and are highly susceptible to pulmonary diseases. We should take the initiative of getting our grandparents and parents vaccinated against Influenza. This goes a long way in keeping them healthy.

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  • There is no use going to the doctor since Alzheimer’s is untreatable.

 

Absolutely wrong statement. I can’t believe people often think like this.

Going to a doctor is extremely beneficial, especially if you want an early diagnosis, and want the medications to be most effective. The thing with the Alzheimer’s drugs is that they work best in the initial stages and slow down the progression. Also, getting to see the patient by the physician regularly help catch a complication like chest infection early on. This can dramatically improve the lifespan and the quality of life.

  • Alzheimer’s will eventually develop in children of patients:

It is a wrong misconception that gives sleepless nights to many. Alzheimer’s is a multifactorial disease. It does not necessarily have to be hereditary. In fact, less than 5% cases are hereditary. In these, some mutation in plaque making proteins lead to the disease.

  • Alzheimer’s can be prevented.

The most heartbreaking of all facts is that Alzheimer’s disease simply can’t be prevented. We can try our best to reduce its risk, but Mother Nature has not left us many loopholes to work around and totally avoid this disease.

  • There is no meaning to life after Alzheimer’s Diesease

Who can say such an unscrupulous thing? Life, in all its forms, always has meaning. The patients of Alzheimer’s are also human; although diseased and a little change, but humans nonetheless. They should be valued and loved, as should anyone else. They need it more than normal human beings.

Prevention

As humans, we are relentless in finding the cure to any disease. Medicine is advancing at an exponential rate, and we demand that all diseases must have treatment, possibly cure.

It is that unyielding nature of humans that we have kept the fire of life burning within us. We must never lose hope and give up. It is due this characteristic feature of humanity that we always find a way to prevent, if not treat the disease. It has brought us here, and will take us forward.

A sad truth remains: there is no absolute prevention of Alzheimer’s. So, our universal dictum that ‘Prevention is Better than Cure ’does not work here.

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Research shows weak, but recurrent relationship between reducing risk factors and reducing the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s. As humans, hope is all we need (backed up by a little research!), and so, we must do the following to say no to bad Alzheimer’s.

Things we can easily do to ameliorate our risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Exercise daily: I bet that if you had a one Rupee coin every time someone said this, you would be a billionaire by now. It is a difficult commitment, but daily exercise helps, not just to reduce the risk, but to live a wholesome life. Kudos to exercise!
  • Eating healthy diet: I will wait for your scream to die down here. I know healthy food is not the tastiest (that is exactly where I go wrong), but it keeps you afloat in the boat of life. I think this is reason enough to eat healthy (which I know, no one finds believable, or even sane).

Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Socializing more: Is this not a great thing to do while avoiding a deplorable disease? I know, women read it kitty party (you go, girl!). We must motivate our elders to take part in more fun activities, to go out more and meet friends (and sadly, relatives) regularly.

Conclusion

While it not a totally avoidable disease, we can find solace the fact that risk of Alzheimer’s can be cut down significantly if we know how to live life to the fullest and how to keep our fingers away from junk food that gives us both atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

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