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While memory loss and dementia associated with aging occur for many reasons, one of the causes is Alzheimer’s disease. Currently no cure exists for this disease, but steps can be taken to try to slow its progression. 

It is not uncommon for people to lose some of their mental ability as they age. But when loss of memory or mental ability becomes severe enough to interfere with daily life, it is known as dementia, and a major cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. While simple forgetfulness or other signs of mentally slowing down can be normal, it is important to know that Alzheimer’s disease affects a large number of people and to be aware of signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease so that steps can be taken to try and lessen its serious effects.

Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 36 million people worldwide, about equivalent to the entire population of Canada. Of people 65 years of age and older in Western Europe and North America, between one in ten and one in twenty have Alzheimer’s disease.1,2 This disease is caused by the buildup of plaques in the brain, which damages and kills brain cells, resulting in corresponding memory loss and reduced mental ability.* While research is being done, today there is still no cure for this disease. And while medication and lifestyle and dietary management can slow its progression, Alzheimer’s disease is still the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

While the direct cause of symptoms is known, the reasons why people develop Alzheimer’s disease in the first place are less clear. It is likely that a combination of genetic and environmental factors are responsible. Therefore, many doctors and patients are hopeful that changes in lifestyle and diet can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Many seniors, however, tend to have less nutritious diets as they age. Therefore, it is important to know that in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, early diagnosis and nutritious dietary habits are two factors that have been shown to improve the disease course.3,4,5 The role of nutrition in brain health is one of our primary areas of focus at Nestlé Health Science, with the goal of helping patients better manage their condition.

1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ana.410300310/abstract. Accessed December 2014.
2. http://www.alz.org/downloads/Facts_Figures_2014.pdf. Accessed December 2014.
3. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp. Accessed December 2014.
4. http://journal.frontiersin.org/journal/10.3389/fnagi.2014.00282/full. Accessed December 2014. 
5. http://www.alzheimers.net/resources/alzheimers-statistics/. Accessed December 2014.
*Listed symptoms are not all-inclusive; actual patient symptoms may vary.

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Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia.
Dementia is an overarching term for diseases and conditions characterized by a decline in memory or mental function that affects a person’s ability to perform every day activities.

Source: http://www.alz.org/what-is-dementia.asp. Accessed December 2014.

Strategies for coping with decreased mental ability

To better cope with the decline in mental ability associated with Alzheimer’s disease, strategies can be developed to help better manage forgetfulness and memory loss. Simple, regular routines like applying labels to accomplished tasks can help in cases where memory may not function well.

Source: http://www.alz.org/i-have-alz/tips-for-daily-life.asp. Accessed December 2014.


Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease

While nothing has been definitively shown to cure or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, a large amount of research has been done on the role of proper nutrition in lessening its impact. As many seniors tend to reduce their nutritional intake as they age, it is important to strive for a healthy and balanced daily diet in order to improve the chances of maintaining health and functional capacity.

Source: http://www.alz.org/downloads/Facts_Figures_2014.pdf. Accessed December 2014.

Others can help

Others can help

It might be difficult to allow others to see the effects of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but patients should not become isolated. In addition to proper medical care, the help and care of family and friends both in providing emotional support and in helping cope with the decrease in mental ability are crucial components of living with AD.

Source: http://www.alzheimers.net/resources/alzheimers-statistics/. Accessed December 2014.