Alzheimer's disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually over many years and eventually become more severe. It affects multiple brain functions. The first sign of Alzheimer's disease is usually minor memory problems. For example, this could be forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects. As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop, such as: confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places, difficulty planning or making decisions, problems with speech and language, problems moving around without assistance or performing self-care tasks, personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others, low mood or anxiety
Who is on the risk of getting Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer's disease is most common in people over the age of 65.
The risk of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia increases with age, affecting an estimated 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 and 1 in every 6 people over the age of 80.
But around 1 in every 20 people with Alzheimer's disease are under the age of 65. This is called early- or young-onset Alzheimer's disease.
How Alzheimer's happen?
Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning. It can affect memory, thinking skills and other mental abilities.
The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is not yet fully understood, although a number of things are thought to increase your risk of developing the condition.
- increasing age
- a family history of the condition
- untreated depression, although depression can also be one of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease
- lifestyle factors and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease
How to prevent Alzheimer's?
You may be able to reduce your risk of developing these conditions – as well as other serious problems, such as strokes and heart attacks – by taking steps to improve your cardiovascular health.
- stop smoking
- keeping alcohol to a minimum
- eating a healthy, balanced diet, including at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day
- exercising for at least 150 minutes every week by doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or fast walking)
- making sure blood pressure is checked and controlled through regular health tests
- if you have diabetes, make sure you keep to the diet and take your medicine
What are types of supplement/food good for Alzheimer's?
Various herbal remedies, vitamins and other supplements are widely promoted as preparations that may support cognitive health or prevent or delay Alzheimer's. Clinical trials have produced mixed results with little evidence to support them as effective treatments.
Some of the treatments that have been studied recently include:
Vitamin E. Although vitamin E doesn't prevent Alzheimer's, taking 2,000 international units daily may help delay the progression in people who already have mild to moderate disease. However, study results have been mixed, with only some showing modest benefits. Further research into the safety of 2,000 international units daily of vitamin E in a dementia population will be needed before it can be routinely recommended.
Supplements promoted for cognitive health can interact with medications you're taking for Alzheimer's disease or other health conditions. Work closely with your health care team to create a safe treatment plan with any prescriptions, over-the-counter medications or dietary supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish or from supplements may lower the risk of developing dementia, but clinical studies have shown no benefit for treating Alzheimer's disease symptoms.
Curcumin. This herb comes from turmeric and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that might affect chemical processes in the brain. So far, clinical trials have found no benefit for treating Alzheimer's disease.
Ginkgo. Ginkgo is a plant extract containing several medicinal properties. A large study funded by the National Institutes of Health found no effect in preventing or delaying Alzheimer's disease.
Melatonin. This supplement of a hormone that regulates sleep is being studied to determine if it offers benefits managing sleep in people with dementia. But some research has indicated that melatonin may worsen mood in some people with dementia. More research is needed.