About The Author
Dr. Malgorzata Franczak
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to reach nearly 14 million by 2050. But despite the growing number of people diagnosed with the disease, there is still not a cure or treatment to stop the progression of the condition.
People often live 15-20 years with Alzheimer’s disease after the first symptoms appear. Here are some steps you can take to help manage symptoms:
- Medication – There are several types that can slow the progression of symptoms. These medications work by increasing the amount of chemicals in the brain or by blocking receptors from excess stimulation that can damage the neurons.
- Creating a safe environment – Although memory loss is distressing, it’s often the changes in behavior and difficulty with activities of daily living that are the most disturbing to the care partners. One way to help lessen – or even eliminate – behavior issues is by creating a safe living environment that emphasizes routine and structure. People with Alzheimer’s disease should not be left alone and it’s a good idea to remove things that may cause issues. For example, take away car keys and set an alarm so they can’t wander away on their own.
- Lifestyle changes – Taking care to improve your general health can help slow cognitive decline. Following a healthy diet – such as the Mediterranean diet – and focusing on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein is a good start. It’s also important to stay active and get regular exercise. Staying social and mentally engaged is another way to help slow progression of the disease.
Interestingly, Alzheimer’s disease starts 10-20 years before the first symptoms appear. But research shows that, by the time symptoms arrive, it’s too late to change the trajectory of the disease.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network is currently conducting research and clinical trials to learn more about the Alzheimer’s disease process. We’re using magnetic resonance imaging tests to develop biomarkers and detect changes in the brain before symptoms are present. Our goal is to learn if beginning therapies sooner can more effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease.
To learn more about managing Alzheimer’s disease or participating in a clinical trial, make an appointment with a primary care provider. To find a primary care provider near you, contact your health insurance provider.