‘Adult-onset Brain & Cognitive Disorders’ Posts

Feeling forgetful? Tips for seniors to preserve their mental abilities

March 10th, 2016 by Doris Bersing

Our associate Edward FrancisBrain Changes explains here few important tips for seniors to preserve their mental abilities when feeling forgetful. He says, “….If you’ve recently noticed that you’re going through some thinking issues, it could mean that your mental abilities are decreasing. Are you having issues remembering where you put your house keys? Do you struggle remembering what you did yesterday? These are common changes that the brain may be experiencing as you age…” But we could ask: how can seniors distinguish common thinking issues from severe health conditions linked to mental stability such as Alzheimer’s or dementia?

Understanding the brain and its functions

As you age, your brain’s volume begins to shrink. As soon as this happens, the nerve cells inside your brain may lose connections with your other nerve cells and just shrink. The blood flowing through the brain loses intensity as we age. This is an age-related change that is believed to be the root cause of cognitive decline. It is perfectly normal to experience memory lapses every now and then; however significant memory loss is not part of the aging process. It is important to make an appointment with a physician and know for sure whether or not your memory loss is a sign of cognitive decline or not. Cognitive symptoms that get in the way of your daily activities must not be overlooked as these will interfere with your daily activities.

Changes in the brain that might trigger dementia

Dementia is a form of cognitive decline in mental abilities, including language skills, reasoning, memory, perception and judgment. The causes are different from patient to patient. Alzheimer’s in particular, is one of the most common forms of dementia. It materializes when the brain’s nerve cells deteriorate and die. Vascular dementia on the other hand, happens when the brain’s nerve fibers are damaged by cardiovascular or cerebrovascular problems, most commonly strokes.

Tips for seniors to prevent cognitive decline

Promising medical research shows that taking into consideration the following steps might help preserve your mental abilities as you get older.

  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control – adhere to a healthier lifestyle. Exclude unhealthy carbohydrates, sugar and salt from your diet, and focus your attention on eating more vegetables and fruits. Drink plenty of water, and exercise regularly. Daily walking for 30 minutes or swimming should keep your blood pumping and your cholesterol levels under control.
  • Quit smoking & alcohol consumption – both smoking and alcohol consumption may increase your chances of developing dementia as you age. It’s ok to have a glass of wine in the evening, but make sure to drink in moderation.
  • Work out – regular physical activity is believed to help preserve adequate blood flow into the brain; daily activities that keep the blood pumping may reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, an ailment directly linked to developing dementia.
  • Keep your brain stimulated – mental stimulation is vital for your brain health. Stay active by boosting your degree of social interaction. Play challenging games (chess, solve puzzles) and engage in daily activities to keep your brain engaged.

Poor concentration can be a major cause for memory loss. Seniors can start forgetting things when their brains are not properly stimulated. Boredom and lack of stimulation may be a trigger for developing severe anxiety and depression. That’s why it is fundamental for seniors to find activities that can sustain mental stability. Reading books, solving puzzles, and playing chess should definitely be checked out.

Home care and professional healthcare

Many seniors don’t want to admit that they can’t manage on their own anymore, and they would do anything to preserve their independence for as long as possible. That’s not always the smartest thing you can do. If you’re becoming forgetful it’s best to ask for help. Turn to your family and friends, and consider home care. Hiring a caregiver to help you with your grocery shopping, daily home maintenance and cleaning might also be a great idea.

Bottom line is, we can’t put an end to the aging process; and whether we like it or not at some point in life our brains will deteriorate. Most people are terrified of nursing homes; they don’t want to be left alone in a place filled with stranger. And yet, the idea of care homes is not as scary as it seems. There are comfortable facilities where you can enjoy an active lifestyle, interact with people your age, and live a happy and fulfilling life. All you have to do is take a leap of faith!

A Cure for Alzheimer’s? The Noise Around Coconut Oil

July 29th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

12353888_mIt is common to hear of new ‘miracle cures’ being discovered, this is particularly true now that the internet is capable of spreading any story around the world in mere moments. Of course, many of these miraculous cures turn out to be impossible to confirm using current medical science.

One such claim was made by Dr. Mary Newport who seemed to have reversed the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in her husband by simply adding coconut oil to his diet for two weeks. The difference with this claim is that subsequent research appears to confirm this finding. (see an interview with Dr. Newport). It is true that MCT fats and their power to boost brain function

The majority of fats you consume are processed through the lymphatic system; however MCT fats are not, they go directly to the liver and are converted into energy which is instantly usable by the body. These MCT fats have been found to improve brain function after just one dose.

Neurodegenerative conditions

Alzheimer’s is one of several diseases which slowly destroy the neurological functions of the body, and in particular, the brain. The research conducted by the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada focused on the effects of coconut oil and the survival of neurons in the body. Coconut oil was found to be incredibly good at protecting these neurons from destruction and that the neurons were healthier with better mitochondria function than before the treatment. This was an essential finding as mitochondria function has been shown to be compromised in the brains of those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

It is understood that this is possible as the MCT fats provide an alternative energy source to for these neurons. This allows them to function when they would otherwise die as they are unable to access the normal, glucose based energy available in the body. More research is planned to investigate and substantiate these findings further.

Rescuing the Brain

Coconut oil works by addressing the metabolic derangement in the brain, it provides an alternative energy source which allows the cells to heal and function normally again. The derangement of the brain is also known as Type 3 Diabetes. This is the naturally occurring resistance to insulin which makes the brain incapable of absorbing glucose properly. As the brain require a huge amount of energy on a daily basis an inability to obtain enough of this will have a detrimental effect on the brain cells; starting with the less vital ones.

Coconut oil appears to not only provide instantly usable energy to the brain but it can also provide the basis of new brain cells allowing the brain not only to repair itself but to grow and accept new information. Those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and have taken coconut oil have shown significant improvement in cognitive function and memory.

Poetic license

Alongside the research and gradual increase in positive results from this natural substance it may be of interest to note that the coconut is actually composed in a similar way to the human head. A coconut has an extremely hard outer shell, much like the human skull. Inside is a fatty acid-rich ‘meat’, this is the food source for the organ (brain) that they resemble. Walnuts have a similar look and have also been attributed with a variety of health benefits. It suggests that Mother Nature is prompting the use of coconuts and other natural foods by associating them with the part of the body they help.

Of course, this is subjective and it will probably take many years and many millions or billions of dollars before this is proved by scientists. In the meantime you will need to draw your own conclusions as to whether to incorporate this ‘food as medicine’ approach to health. Many would say that coconut oil for Alzheimer’s is a holistic type of treatment. Even though actual physicians managed to connect the oil to the diseases, numerous other related studies are still trying to prove that the connection is real, and that coconut could stop the formation of plaques in Alzheimer’s.

As Edward Francis from Supplemented.co.uk  says “…there’s no cure for dementia. Nevertheless, scientists are not losing hope…Dr. Newport was determined to help her husband, and apparently she managed to reserve the severe symptoms with coconut oil…” It is important though to ask the advice of a professional in the domain before starting a treatment. We will continue trying anything that can be of help to alleviate if not to stop such a cruel disease.

Anemia in Older Adults Might Increase Risk for Dementia

August 7th, 2013 by Doris Bersing

blood-20745_640A new study published in Neurology suggests that older adults with anemia have an increased risk of developing dementia.

Read more about the study and findings.

Elderly Sleep Pattern Changes May Help to Detect Dementia

July 19th, 2012 by Doris Bersing

Older adults who have too much, too little or restless sleep have an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, according to research presented at AAIC. One study found that women who slept too much or too little had brain changes equal to two years of aging; another showed that women with sleep apnea had twice the odds of developing a pre-Alzheimer’s condition.
Read the article 

Huntington’s sufferer puts a human face on a cruel disease

June 4th, 2012 by Doris Bersing

Huntington Disease (HD) is another neuro-psychiatric disorder of the central nervous system – like Parkinson’s, ALS, or Alzheimer’s- affecting as many as 1/10,000-1/20,000 people in the U.S.A. HD is an autosomal dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disease. The clinical features and age of onset are quite variable, but symptoms are most frequently detectable between 30-50 years of age.
HD is a seriously debilitating progressive disease. It results in cognitive impairment (e.g., loss of sensory-motor function, memory, and judgment), emotional/behavioral disturbance and loss of physical control, often over a period of ten to twenty years. Early physical symptoms may initially involve fidgeting, restlessness, changes in handwriting, or clumsiness. Symptoms will progress into more significant involuntary movements (chorea) of face, body and limbs, myoclonus, dystonia, incoordination, slurred speech (dysarthria) and difficulty with walking and swallowing (dysphagia). Cognitive, emotional and/or behavioral changes may precede, occur simultaneously, or follow the onset of physical symptoms.
A patient and advocate, CHRIS FURBEE is in a race against a disease that killed his mother, his aunt and his grandfather. Like them, the 46-year-old caregiver and part-time musician has Huntington’s disease, a genetic brain disorder so cruel it’s been likened to suffering from cancer, muscular dystrophy and Alzheimer’s at the same time. There is no cure for it, and it’s always fatal.
Read the article
View Furbee’s interview on Comcast local edition
View CBS Sunday Morning News story
Explore Chris Furbee’s website

How Music Brings Elders with Dementia Back to Life

April 11th, 2012 by Doris Bersing

guitar-77317_640Research has shown memory to be affected by many different factors. One of these factors is music, which has been found to stimulate parts of the brain. Many studies have demonstrated that music enhances the memory of Alzheimer`s and dementia patients. Music has also been found to reduce stress, aid relaxation and alleviate depression. Look at how an old man comes to life just using an i-pod!

See the video

Keeping Your Brain Healthy: Preventing Alzheimer’s

February 13th, 2012 by Doris Bersing

brain-78440_640See Dr. Gary Small’s interview on the Today Show about keeping your brain healthy: preventing Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Small is director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the University’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior and professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. Named one of the world’s leading innovators in science and technology by Scientific American, he appears frequently on Today, Good Morning America, PBS, and CNN. Watch the interview