One third of senior citizens develop some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, a new case of dementia develops nearly every minute. The World Health Organization reports that the number of dementia cases worldwide will nearly double by 2030 and triple by 2050. By 2050, the cost of treating dementia is expected to exceed 1 trillion dollars in the United States alone. With such staggering statistics regarding a disease that currently has no cure, dementia patients, their families and caregivers are increasingly seeking alternative treatments to maintain quality of life and retain memory.
Advantages to Alternative Medicine
Concerns about the rising cost of treatments and the relatively ineffective options through traditional medical channels are prompting an increase in the treatment of dementia and other related diseases through complementary and alternative channels. Alternative medicine is often less expensive than its traditional counterpart. Families and patients who are strapped to make their retirement dollars stretch, are turning to alternative methods of healing to save on costs.
A growing backlash against pharmaceutical companies and over-the-counter medication also has a lot of patients weary about relying solely on drugs to treat disease. For its part, the alternative medicine community has responded to the increased interest in alternative ways to treat dementia including lifestyle change, vitamin supplements, exercise, dementia focused holistic centers and pet therapy aid. Even more importantly, science supports the results of alternative treatments.
The cost of monthly care for dementia patients, who must be housed in a special facility, reach into the thousands. Some facilities in the United States charge six digit figures on an annual basis to provide care for dementia patients. Most American facilities involve locked wards that prevent patients from wandering away and possibly harming themselves or others. These facilities have specially trained staff who strive to keep patients relaxed and calm in order to reduce episodes of confusion and disorientation. Families struggle, however, to place loved ones in such facilities because they’re viewed as very sterile environments that often more closely resemble hospitals than homes.
On the contrary, dementia villages are springing up around the world. Dementia villages are special gated housing developments and planned communities in which dementia patients maintain many of the freedoms that they’ve always had; including (in some cases) the ability to go about traditional daily activities such as shopping, exercising and cleaning, along with the advantage of supervised care always being available.
Doctors report that patients who live in dementia villages are plagued by fewer behavioral related symptoms than those who live in traditional nursing homes, as the result of being able to remain active in a community. The cost of living in such facilities is not cheap, but it can still be considerably less than the six-digit figures charged by more traditional facilities. In countries such as The Netherlands, government subsidies ensure that families pay less than half of the actual costs. The perpetual waiting lists speak to the importance of quality of living when allocating healthcare expenses.
Diet & Exercise Are Critical
Closer to home, physicians are exploring alternative ways to treat dementia. Diet and exercise have shown to hold a significant impact on dementia. In fact, dementia patients have actually shown memory improvement following dietary adjustments.
Dementia patients are encouraged to eat healthy fats and plenty of fermented foods, but to avoid refined sugars and gluten. Refined and artificial sweeteners, as well as gluten, are known to have agents that may accelerate or even perpetuate the onset of dementia. Consumption of healthy fats protects the brain, however, and fermented foods help maintain healthy levels of good bacteria within the stomach and digestive tract.
Some fish, such as tuna, are high in toxins such as mercury, and may actually have a negative impact on dementia patients. Mercury is a heavy metal that has been directly linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease by multiple studies, according to Dr. Charles Williamson, the co-director of the Toxic Studies Institute. Dental fillings and excessive consumption of tuna are the primary causes of elevated mercury levels.
The highest mercury levels consistently recorded in my practice are caused by eating excessive amounts of tuna (often as sushi). Dental amalgams are the most common cause of elevated mercury levels in my practice, but the average tissue levels are somewhat lower than those who regularly eat tuna. A hair analysis from Doctor’s Data can determine whether a patient has high levels of heavy metals, and chelation therapy is effective in treating it. (I will be introducing an oral, all-natural heavy metal/liver de-tox program in the coming months. Please let me know if you are interested.)
While proper diet is of the utmost importance, there are other very helpful things to do. Exercise is also a key component in maintaining healthy brain function. Sitting for long periods of time has a degenerative effect on both body and brain and can contribute to metabolic, musculoskeletal, and cardiac dysfunction. The brain should be exercised as well as the body. You’re never too old to learn, and in the case of patient’s challenged by dementia, learning may very well be the key to keeping the brain fit. Dementia patients are encouraged to take up new hobbies to stay sharp.
Supplement with Vitamins / Minerals / Memory Support Formula
Therapeutic doses of vitamins and minerals, along with Memory Support Formula, are key supplements to diet and exercise. Here is my 5-point supplement program I have used with my patients for many years:
- Foundation Vitamin Formula, three daily.
- Chelated Magnesium, two daily
- Vitamin D3, 5,000 IU, one daily
- Balanced Omega Support, two daily
- Memory Support Formula, one daily
It’s no secret that stress not only negatively impacts the brain and causes depression, apathy, lethargy and exhaustion; it also has a negative physical impact on the body. Specifically, excessive stress has been linked to dementia. It’s critical for dementia patients to find a way to relax and de-stress.
Reiki is an activity designed to help individuals relax, and there is research to suggest that it is particularly effective for those with dementia. Pets are another effective method for relieving stress, and are increasingly being utilized as therapy tools in many mainstream as well as alternative treatment plans. Getting proper sleep also contributes to the reduction of stress levels. However, avoid taking sleep enhancers or antidepressants if possible. Many of these drugs have been linked to the onset of dementia.
Although it is critical for the care of dementia patients to be monitored by medical professionals, not all viable treatments for dementia are sourced from mainstream medicine. Some of the most effective solutions for dementia involve lifestyle changes and ongoing life choice maintenance.