The primary risk factor for acquiring Alzheimer’s disease is age. Alzheimer’s starts early in life and progresses to a point where we can detect noticeable declines in cognitive functions, such as memory gaps or loss. As depicted in the Life Path chart, age-related disorders are influenced from an early age by our lifestyle as well as genetic makeup.
The Crisis of Alzheimer’s
Fact: 1 in 10 people
are now at least 60 years old. By 2050, the ratio will be 1 in
Fact: Alzheimer’s represents the largest percentage of dementia.
Research in three areas offers hope
1. Brain Mechanisms
The Glial cell’s role in the symptomatic period of Alzheimer’s disease and in the very early, preclinical stages is getting more recognition. Glial dysfunction and myelin breakdown occur as early as midlife and progress over the next 30 to 40 years. The age risk factor for Alzheimer’s may be early, progressive, and related to glial dysfunction. Therefore, treatments and lifestyle changes targeted to support glial function may significantly delay the onset and severity of Alzheimer’s.
2. Early Diagnosis
Early diagnosis and treatment provides greater opportunity to delay, if not reverse, symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
PET or MRI may detect and track early preclinical changes as early as 30 years of age. PET research offers dramatic insights into changes in brain metabolism, blood flow, and receptor functions. This neuroimage shows two aging brains: on the left, one of a healthy individual; and on the right, one of an Alzheimer’s individual with greatly reduced metabolism.
3. Available Treatments
Currently available drugs are somewhat effective in reducing some aspects of cognitive decline, but they do not greatly influence the course of the disease.
However, a natural, holistic, and medicinal approach may offer the best chance to slow or reverse the cognitive and pathologic changes of Alzheimer’s. This suggests the possibility of halting these changes and perhaps restoring normal brain function in affected patients.
The oldest, most systematic health care system in the world is Ayurveda. This ancient system of health and longevity offers hope in the fight against Alzheimer’s.