Alzheimer's Disease

Recap of ‘Untangling Alzheimer’s’ from The Nature of Things

Part of Memory Ball’s mission goes beyond throwing a great party, but to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s in our community. Whenever we hear of any media events surrounding Alzheimer’s, we jump on the opportunity to share and promote the content being presented.  Untangling Alzheimer’s‘ of CBC’s The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, is a fascinating episode that covered what it may be like to have Alzheimer’s, ways to test for the disease, the link between nutrition and cognitive function, scientific advances and much more. For Suzuki, the disease hits close to home as his mother suffered from Alzheimer’s. As a geneticist with a family history of AD, he has a particular interest in discovering more about the non-genetic components of the disease. Here are some points in the show that we took away and wanted to share with the Memory Ball community.

Watch the full episode here.

  1. Empathy  We need to have empathy for people with Alzheimer’s. As Suzuki demonstrates, people with Alzheimer’s live a very different reality from their caregivers. They might be unable to distinguish between simple audio cues and background noise. It may take them longer to complete simple tasks and those around them need to be patient and compassionate. 
  2. Diagnosis  It’s often hard to deduce for sure if someone has Alzheimer’s. There is, however a simple test being done that can detect beta-amyloid (the plaque in the brain that is associated with Alzheimer’s) in the eye that can signal the presence of Alzheimer’s plaques in the brain.
  3. The Brain Pacemaker  On a hopeful note, doctors discovered a ‘pacemaker‘ for the brain by accident in a trial to promote weight loss. They found that by stimulating the hippocampus with electricity, they were able to improve cognitive functioning, improve memory and reduce shrinking in the brain’s memory centre.
  4. Type 3 Diabetes  Researchers have discovered a strong correlation between having diabetes and Alzheimer’s.  In trials, people with Alzheimer’s who were administered insulin showed an improvement in their memory and cognitive function.
  5. We are what we eat  Some scientists have seen a correlation between the amount of preservatives in our food and the increase in Alzheimer’s. This area is being explored more and more however they recommend staying clear of processed foods.
  6. “Without a treatment, we have to rely on empathy and compassion” This stresses the idea that we need to show compassion and understanding to members of our society dealing with Alzheimer’s. It’s a very difficult disease with many mysteries, but we can all show some compassion. 

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