A new study out of the University of Irvine here in California indicates that there might be more to Alzheimer’s disease than what researchers first believed. The toxic buildup of amyloid proteins in the brain has long been seen as the hallmark trait of the disease, and to be clear, it still is one of the biggest concerns for those that have this disease. But, like a lot of doctors have known for a long time, it’s not quite this simplistic. There are other changes that take place when someone has Alzheimer’s.
This study focused on individuals with Down Syndrome. The metabolic changes that they faced from birth with acquired amyloid proteins are actually very similar to what those with Alzheimer’s face. This study is one of the first to demonstrate this and it is an indicator that amyloid proteins may not be the only thing that causes Alzheimer’s disease. People with Down Syndrome also face a higher than usual risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
It also indicates that the decreased metabolic functioning that older adults with Alzheimer’s face may be reversible, to an extent. The goal is to use the information that was gathered in this study as a springboard to establish better ways of helping those with Alzheimer’s. It’s just a start, but it could take research in an entirely new direction. That’s not a bad thing. There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, and a new direction could be exactly what’s needed to help get us closer to this point.
In the meantime, how do we lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease? How do we help keep ourselves and those that we love as safe and healthy as possible? There’s no proven model yet for everyone, but there are certain things that have been shown to statistically lower the chance of getting the disease. Physical and mental activity are two of the most important components of this. People who exercise, especially with endurance sports, are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. People who keep their brains active, through work, puzzles, or other activities, are less likely to develop the disease, too. A diet low in fried, fatty foods can also help to reduce that risk.
But none of these things are guaranteed. There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done and scientists and doctors are working on this. A lot of progress has been made, and the above mentioned study is a step in that direction. But there’s a long road ahead for a full understanding of the disease.
High quality care is absolutely necessary if a loved one has Alzheimer’s. We’re here to help–even now when senior care might seem like a far off thought. COVID-19 has changed a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean that your older loved ones should not get the care that they deserve. If you’re struggling with caring for an older loved one with dementia, please get in touch with us. One of our trained caregivers can help get you set up with a free online consultation and help you to get started.