October 26, 2011

October 26, 2011
Alzheimer's and the Brain

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Wednesday and we have almost made it to the middle of another work week. Hope you are having a safe and great week so far. It is another busy day for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

While living with HIV can be hard enough, people are now living with HIV longer and have to worry about the other illnesses that come with aging like Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases.

Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer's are 65 and older. But Alzheimer's is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer's (also known as younger onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.

Alzheimer's worsens over time. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

Alzheimer's has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer's treatments cannot stop Alzheimer's from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.

Many people are still unaware that ninety percent of what we know about Alzheimer's has been discovered in the last 15 years, and some of that knowledge has shed light on how Alzheimer's affects the brain. The hope is that enhanced understanding will lead to new treatments.

Stay physically active:

Physical exercise helps to maintain good blood flow to the brain and encourages the growth of new brain cells.

Eat a healthy diet:

High cholesterol may contribute to stroke and brain cell damage, so follow low fat, low cholesterol diet.

Remain socially active:

Social activity can reduce stress levels, which helps maintain healthy connections among brain cells.

Stay mentally active:

Mentally stimulating activities strengthen brain cells and the connections between them, and may even create new nerve cells.

Wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab