Dementia is one of the most common diseases among the elderly people. It is used to describe a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. Its effects on the elderly people are the failure to think sound enough to carry out regular activities like eating and dressing. Such patients may lose their abilities to solve problems or control their emotions. One of the major symptoms of dementia is the loss of memory accompanied by language. Two common causes of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease and Stroke. Alzheimer’s disease affects the memory, thinking, and behavior and it is an irreversible, progressive brain that slowly affects the remembrance and thoughts.
For most elderly people, the first symptoms appear at the age of 60 years. For diagnosis, the most important features are memory impairment along with language problems, as well as problems in decision-making ability, ruling and character. The main causes of Alzheimer’s disease include hereditary, ecological, and lifestyle factors. This paper is intended to discuss the effects on Alzheimer’s disease by nutrition factors and weight loss. The summary will include the findings and discussions of three different scholarly resources which are the publication by the National Institute on aging, Luchsinqer and Mayeux (2004)and American Journal for Clinical Nutrition by Andrieu et al.
According to the National Institute of Aging (2008), the findings are that there are three types of Alzheimer’s disease. The earliest signs and symptoms of this disease is the loss of memory and some people have a condition called Amnesic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which ends up to develop to Alzheimer’s disease. The second stage in the development of Alzheimer’s disease is the mild Alzheimer’s disease where the memory loss increases and other changes in cognitive abilities begin to appear some of which include getting lost, unconsciously repeating questions or phrases, problems paying bills and handling money, poor judgment and small individuality and temper changes. At this stage, it is easy to diagnose such patients.
The third level of Alzheimer’s disease occurs when damages occur in the brain sections that affect verbal communication, reason, sensory dispensation, and mindful thought resulting to confusion increase. At this stage, the patients are unable to recognize family members and friends, and may be unable to discover new things or carry out tasks that involve multiple steps like dressing and eating, or even cope with new situations. To some extent, the patient develops figment of the imagination, fantasies, and paranoia, and may behave spontaneously. The last step of is the severe Alzheimer’s disease that has the brain tissue completely shrunk and the patient is unable to communicate and are completely dependent on others for care and they are most of the time in bed.
According to Luchsinqer and Mayeux (2004), though there is inconsistent evidence relating diet and AD, both the prospective and the observational studies suggest that dietary deficiencies of nutrients are closely related to the occurrence of cognitive decline. The two observe that nutrition-related risk factors may include micronutrients like B vitamins, vitamin C, E antioxidants and beta-carotene, macronutrients, cholesterol and nutrition-related disorders, such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension.
The two found out that, for the enthusiastic chiropractic doctors, the dietary approval for patients include both the patient’s health and brain protection. For instance, the control of hypertension, reducing cholesterol and fat intake, restrictive caloric intake throughout adult life and keep away from red meat utilization, as well as increasing fish consumption and increasing the consumptions of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidant vitamins such as vitamins E, C and beta-carotene and foliate together with unsaturated fatty acids may delay or slow the development of AD. Other foods whose intake should be regulated to control AD are the moderate use of Alcohol and wines.
In another research by Andrieu et al (2000), it was found that individuals with dementia frequently develop serious feeding difficulties as their dementia advanced which result to weight loss. In addition, for caregivers who counted themselves overburdened, it was observed that they weren’t willing to invest wherewithal optimally to enable the patients to properly nurture themselves and this contributed to their weight loss. Apart from anorexia several other factors result to weight loss in AD patients some of which include confusion where the patient tends to forget what they ate and when they ate resulting to poor feeding habits and weight loss Andrieu et al (2000). Other factors include loss of appetite as a result of loneliness, grief, frustrations, dependence among other factors that contribute to depression and as a result the patient loses interest in food and becomes unwilling to eat. This poor nutrition can worsen depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases.
The intention of this paper was to discover how the nutritional values and weight loss contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and the how this can be controlled to avoid adverse effects to the patients. According to the National institute on Aging, it is evident that Alzheimer’s disease has several stages in development and this becomes easy to recognize that not patients with signs of Alzheimer’s disease suffer from the nutritional problem especially those in the first few stages of development where the memory loss is not severe. As for the patients in the final stage where plaques and tangles have well spread throughout the brain making it shrink and as a result they can only depend on others for care. Finally, the paper explores the major causes of AD and classifies them into lifestyle causes, environmental causes and genetic causes where nutritious diet is one of the associated factors.
In the study by Luchsinqer and Mayeux (2004), it is evident that cognitive decline or memory loss is closely related to nutritional-related factors like the micronutrients, macronutrients and the nutrition related disorders like the hypertension and diabetes. The study suggest that controllably high intakes of vitamins C, E, B6 and B 12 and folate as well as unsaturated fatty acids and fish are related to low risks to Alzheimer’s Disease though the reports to support this evidence are inconsistent. Another observed relation to low risk of AD is moderate consumption of alcohol especially wine.
Lastly, Andrieu et al (2000) found out that there is an associated unexplained weight loss in AD patients as their energy requirements are higher than those of healthy individuals. One of the major factors that contribute to weight loss is Anorexia which may occur at late stages of the disease and is mainly due to physical changes like decreased taste and smell functions, loss of appetite due to reduced endogenous opioids, and increased satiety due to alleviated sensitivity to cholecystokinin, or it may be due to neuropsychiatry disorders associated with diseases like memory loss, disorientation or confusion, temper disorders, unresponsiveness, and impaired ruling, or a change in independence and dietary habits, or changes in neurotransmitter absorption.
The main purpose of this paper is to explore the how nutrition factors cause Alzheimer’s disease and the effect of Alzheimer’s disease on weight loss and the effect this information on the lives of older adults and their families. From the National Institute on aging, the earliest signs of AD in a patient should have the patient taken to a hospital for diagnosis and physical exam by a skilled doctor or a nurse. In this case, one will be provided with the right advice on how to take care of the patients and also receive important nutritional information.
In addition, the health care provider will take the history of the patient and perform mental status examination and a neurological exam as well as a mental condition examination. Other additional information would be the signs and symptoms of the highly developed stages of this disorder where the family members will be made aware of the importance of a caregiver to the patients to avoid instances of poor nutrition resulting to weight loss due to change in lifestyle factors caused by poor nutrition in the diet. Research suggests that this factors increase the risk of cognitive decline and AD.
The families of patients in their late stages of AD are also made aware of the association that exists between the other major cause of dementia called stroke and other diseases like hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, as well as heart diseases. From the findings and ending drawn by Luchsinqer and Mayeux (2004), though no clear link exist between nutrition factors and AD, some research shows that dietary deficiencies of nutrients have a close link to the occurrence of cognitive decline. The most commonly related risk factors being micronutrients, macronutrients, and nutrition related disorders like diabetes and hypertension.
For the families and caretakers of patients of AD, a lot of finance, objective and emotional costs are encountered. Being well informed about the disease is one long term approach that as families gets informed about the various levels of development of the Alzheimer’s disease and the care required in each as well as about the flexible as practical strategies for coping with difficult care provision circumstances especially for those dealing with people with Alzheimer’s disease. These families also encounter problems in the allocation of family roles and in the decision-making on the appointment in care facility.
In the National Institute on Aging (2008) it is important to develop good management skills and a strong support network of family and friends also are important ways for caregivers to assist themselves to handle the nervous tension of compassionate for a loved one with AD. Some of the recommendations are ensuring the patient remains physically active, provisional of nutritional information all of which ensures that the patient remains physically and emotionally at ease. This goes along way in the avoidance of situations of loneliness, dependent, confused, grief, frustrated, loss of appetite and willingness to eat in adults which may contribute to anorexia and weight loss (Andrieu et al 2000).
Although there is no cure for AD, treatment can be given to patients for the purpose of slowing, impediment or preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Other goals of AD treatment are managing behavior problems, confusions, sleep problems and agitation. Others like modification of the home environment and support for family members and caregivers are indirectly but very important. Some of these treatments include cognitive training where the patient is kept alert by various testing procedures, use of antioxidant, and physical activity to keep the patient active and peaceful (National Institute of Aging 2008). It is important for the family members to understand the drug treatment before administering them to patients as this will go along way in alignment with the patients’ body condition. It is important to ask questions such as the potential side effects of the medication and what extent the damage can be. Another useful question would be the enquiry on the time for the drug’s administration to ensure that no instance of failed prescription is experienced and to facilitate quicker recovery.
In addition to the drugs treatment, supplements can be offered and this include the use of folate or vitamin B9, vitamin B12 and Vitamin E although no strong evidence link this to the prevention or delay or even prevention of the AD. Other people believe that herbs such as biloba prevents or slows the progression of dementia but no research study links this herb to the fact of providing immunization factors. The families and caregivers are highly warned to seek the advice of caregivers before using any supplements on AD patients.
Some caregivers have also found that partaking in a support group is vital as these groups allow them to look for breather, raise their concerns, share experiences, exchange useful ideas and learn, as well as obtain emotional comfort (National Institute on Aging 2008). This groups are either in-person or online support groups some of which are the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease Centers among others. Such groups are vital especially where the caregiver is faced with whether and where a loved one can be placed for care. One relevant sources of information is the National Institute on Aging’s ADEAR Centre that offers useful knowledge and publications for families, caregivers and expert on analysis, treatment, patient care, caregivers’ wants, long-term concern, education and working out, and study related to AD. As of the case of weight loss due to nutrition properties, intercession at hand comprise dietary education curriculum for caregivers and seems to be the most significant way to prevent weight loss and progress the nutritional status of AD.
Andrieu S. et al (200). Weight loss in Alzheimer’s disease. American Society for Clinical Nutrition. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71, No. 2 637s-642s, February 2000. Retrieved from http://www.ajcn.org/content/71/2/637s.full last updated on February 2000
Luchsinger JA and Mayeux R. (2004). Dietary factors and Alheimer’s Disease. Pubmed.gov. Vol. 3 No. 10 P 579-87. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15380154 last updated 2004
National Institute on Aging (2008). Alzheimer ’s disease. US National Institutes of Health. Retrieved on 25-04-2011 from http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/adfact.htm last updated on f19-02-2010