A Cure For The Vanishing Mind? Still no magic bullet.

Alzheimer’s disease is sometimes referred to as the “vanishing mind”.  Common early symptoms include forgetfulness, problems communicating, and changes in mood and behavior.  These early symptoms are followed by a greater decline in the person’s cognitive and functional abilities, where assistance with many daily tasks will become necessary.  Ultimately, in the final stage, the person becomes unable to communicate verbally or look after themselves. Care is required 24 hours a day.

A New York Times article recently asked the question:  “What, if anything, can people do to prevent it?”  Unfortunately, as the article says, the answer is “depressing and distressing “.

A summary of research on Alzheimer’s disease has concluded that there’s no proof we can do anything to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.  This is true despite the advice of the Alzheimer’s Association and most medical professionals that exercising, eating healthy food, staying socially engaged, and challenging our minds will provide at least some preventive effect.

The Alzheimer’s Association may be correct.  What the research says is that we don’t have proof one way or the other.  

The problem is the poor quality of the studies that have been conducted to date, which is partly the result of the difficulty in studying this issue.  Any study of the effect of lifestyle on health must be long term.  Measuring factors like social engagement is nearly impossible. And even exercise and diet depend on the subjects reporting reliably themselves. Finally, since Alzheimer’s develops so slowly and affects victims so differently, and can be difficult to measure the results.

Where does that leave us if we hope to avoid this disease?  Most people would say that healthy eating, exercise, social engagement, and challenging activities will improve our quality of life, whether or not they stave off dementia. If they also keep us mentally healthy longer, let’s consider that to be a bonus.  To read The New York Times article on the study, click  here.

Glenn Matecun


Michigan Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorney

Explore posts in the same categories: Alzheimer's Disease, Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning, Nursing Home Planning

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