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Alzheimer’s Patients Can Return To Work After Trying This New Treatment

Alzheimer’s Patients Can Return To Work After Trying This New Treatment

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive, degenerative disease (meaning that is gradually get worse over time) that, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH) affects around 5 million people in the United States alone. AD, however, does not just affect the patients themselves, but the families who must care for them — and often institutionalize them as the disease gets worse and they become dangerous to themselves and others.  The emotional and social impact of this disease is significant: the Alzheimer’s Foundation estimates that it costs $60 billion in the United States alone, including the cost of lost work by caregivers and medical and insurance costs. And the price tag is only predicted to rise as the population ages.

A Word on Alzheimer’s

This condition was named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer who was the first doctor to write a description of this disease as far back as 1906. Back then very little was known about AD but when the doctor did an autopsy on the patient he was studying, he found that the patient’s brains had become enmeshed with what were later termed to be amyloid plaques and tangles.  It is the formation of these plaques and tangles that causes the signs and symptoms of this disease.

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The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) notes that this disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all dementia cases, and is particularly a risk for patients who are 65 years of age or older. The disease begins with symptoms such as mild memory loss. However, as it advances, it brings with it more severe memory problems such as, difficulty talking, communicating and even performing activities of daily living (like eating, dressing, and going to the bathroom). Often, patients with moderate to severe forms of AD will have to be placed in a facility for the 24/7 care that they require.

Currently, there is no cure for AD. The FDA has approved four different drugs- Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne and Namenda- for treatment of the symptoms of this disease. However, they do not work for everyone and come with a variety of unwanted side effects that range from digestive problems (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation and loss of appetite) to mental problems like confusion.

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New Treatment Brings New Hope

Because of the side effects of the medications currently used for AD, research is underway to look into other treatments for this disease. One new study, published recently in the journal Aging, has brought some excitement to the medical community- and new hope to Alzheimer’s patients and the ones that love them.

The study is on the small side, looking at just 10 patients suffering from age-related loss of cognitive function. However, as lead researcher Dale Breeden notes, the results are “unprecedented”.  The patients in this study were treated with a holistic, 36-point program which included everything from medications and supplements to dietary restrictions, stimulation of the brain and exercises.  After completing this program, testing showed a reversal of their neurological degeneration and scientists note that “patients who had had to discontinue work [due to their condition] were able to return to work and those struggling to work were able to improve their performance.”  As an example, one man showing a shrinkage of the hippocampus went from the 17th percentile to the 75th percentile in hippocampal size after 10 months of treatment, according to MRIs performed before and after the study.

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This multidisciplinary approach to neurological health is not the only exciting thing about this study. Scientists involved in this project also noted that this treatment was done on patients who have one or two copies of the APOE4 gene, which is involved in around 65% of Alzheimer’s cases.  Currently, patients are not evaluated for this gene since doctors deem it unnecessary for this incurable disease, but researchers believe that in the future, APOE4 evaluation will be done in order to help identify patients at a genetic risk for AD and to help them get the early treatment they need to prevent this condition.

In short, Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable condition which has a devastating effect on patients, their families and society as a whole. Currently, the FDA-approved medications for AD treat symptoms without actually affecting a cure. That is why this study, though small, has given many hope for the future as researchers work towards a cure that will save patients and their families from the emotional and social impact of this disease.

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Brian Wu

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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