June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

The Alzheimer’s Association has designated June as “Azheimer’s and Brain  Awareness Month.” They invite you to “go purple” to raise awareness about the debilitating brain disease known as Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is caused by plaque buildup in the brain, and it leads to progressive mental deterioration. Symptoms develop slowly and get worse over time, until the patient requires full-time care.

Regency Nursing: A Leader in Alzheimer’s care

Here at Regency Nursing, we’re the experts in New Jersey dementia and Alzheimer’s care. Living with Alzheimer’s can be a frightening experience for a person whose sense of self and security is slowly eroding. We treat  each dementia patient with compassion and love—as if they were our own family members. At Regency Nursing, you can be sure your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia will be cared for in a safe, warm environment.

Today we join in the Alzheimer’s Association’s efforts to raise awareness about this crippling disease. Very often, seniors brush off early Alzheimer’s warning signs as just “normal aging.” By the time the disease advances to the point where symptoms are very obvious, it’s often too late to slow the progression. On the other hand, when we catch Alzheimer’s early, it’s often possible to slow the rate of further decline.

Another benefit to getting an early diagnosis is the sense of empowerment it provides. A senior who is still mostly cognitively healthy may feel scared and powerless when she’s first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but there’s a major hidden benefit. She can participate in—or even lead—her own legal, financial, and long-term care planning. There’s time for her to express her wishes to her family, sign a POA enabling a loved one to make decisions when she no longer can, and draft a living will. For resources and support after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website.

Alzheimer’s Warning Signs

Here are some common red flags that say you may be facing Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Planning and problem-solving challenges
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble with visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and trouble retracing steps
  • Decreased or poor judgement
  • Withdrawing from normal activities
  • Changes in mood or personality

Early diagnosis is key when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. For more information about these warning signs, see the Alzheimer’s Association‘s information page.

Beating Alzheimer’s

Last week we talked about green leafy vegetables‘ role in improving brain function. Today we’ll explore another delicious vegetable that may prove to be the cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

beets on a wooden table

Beets.

Beets are root vegetables with striking purplish-red flesh. They’re delicious both raw and cooked, and they’re essential in a healthy diet.

Beets are rich in fiber and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, copper, magnesium, and potassium. Among its health benefits are lowered blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, increased endurance, and improved liver function.

Now researchers say beets can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Here’s how it works: the signature physiological characteristic of Alzheimer’s is beta-amyloid buildup in the brain. Amino acids called amyloid beta proliferate in the brain. They form large clusters called beta-amyloid plaques that accumulate and disrupt normal neuron function. These beta-amyloid groupings also cause an inflammatory response in the nervous system, which further advances the disease.

New research finds that beets contain a compound that may slow this process. The chemical betanin—the pigment responsible for beets’ deep red color—interacts with amyloid beta. It prevents this accumulation of the harmful proteins in the brain.

The researchers conducted experiments with betanin, and found the pigment reduced the damage caused by amyloid beta by 90 percent. While the scientists were clear that betanin will not completely prevent Alzheimer’s disease, it does appear to slow the growth of beta-amyloid plaque.

This is promising news for drug developers, who can experiment with this widely available pigment in new drug formulas.

For the rest of us, it’s another reason to eat those tasty red orbs.

 

 

Playing Games To Diagnose Alzheimer’s

Akili Interactive Labs Inc. and Pfizer Inc. have teamed up to test the validity of a cognitive video game developed by Akili to diagnose the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in otherwise healthy seniors.

Akili, founded in 2011 from research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, launched “Project EVO” as a software platform and gaming engine capable of measuring a key feature of executive functioning known as interference processing.

The game itself, which can be played on mobile phones or tablets, takes the user on a journey into four fantasy worlds for a series of timed plays and is then able to analyze the player’s motor function, ability to pay attention, impulse control and reaction time — information that can be readily accessed remotely by a healthcare provider.

Pfizer will test the game as a possible biomarker that can be used to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s. The company will conduct a clinical trial using elderly subjects with and without the presence of amyloid in their brains.

akili

Regency Nursing Tidbits

fathers-day-2011

Happy belated Father’s Day to everyone!

How did you all celebrate Father’s day?

I celebrated Father’s Day by heading out early yesterday morning for a high octane 15.5 mile run in the blistering heat. There is nothing like a good run to release endorphins. Where I live, a 15.5 mile route takes me through several Cities in Jersey. Once I got that out of the way, we spent the rest of the day with the kids.

At Regency Nursing Centers across New Jersey, Father’s Day was celebrated with pomp and cheer. Families dropped by all day to visit their loved ones and were treated to delicious foods, baked goods and fresh fruit. We had live entertainment and a good time was had by all.

In more clinical news, the HSS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, just released their 2013 Alzheimer’s disease update and there are some very interesting and critical developments.

Take a look.