Every Monday it’s our Alzheimer’s Action Plan to protect your brain. Today, a brand new at-home Alzheimer’s quiz. Find out if you have any of the 10 most surprising Alzheimer’s triggers researchers now say can increase your risk. Then, Melissa Rivers speaks out on life after her mother Joan Rivers’ death.
Here are the tools she uses to help manage the progression of the disease.
When Dr. Oz found out in September 2019 that his mom, Suna, then 81, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, he was gutted. He wondered how he missed the signs and what he could do next. Like so many caregivers, he had to recognize that his mom was not going to get better. But he also knew that he wasn't alone: There is an Alzheimer's diagnosis every 65 seconds.
Dr. Oz immediately contacted his friends and colleagues and crafted a treatment plan with two of the country's top experts in the field: Richard S. Isaacson, MD, a neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the founder of the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic, and Dr. Rudy Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard and the founder of the "Alzheimer's Genome Project," who co-discovered the first Alzheimer's gene.
"When loved ones are diagnosed, take a deep breath," Tanzi says. "Alzheimer's is a challenging condition and the only way you can help is to create a plan of action."
Here is Dr. Oz's mom's science-backed regimen for which he hopes will help to slow down and manage the disease's progression.
Lower Her Cholesterol
Dr. Isaacson says that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain.
A new paper from researchers at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands says that cholesterol is a "central player" when it comes to Alzheimer's, although it is still being studied as to exactly how. An association between cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease was first recognized in 1994 and has been under review ever since.
"It's really important to take a preventive cardiology approach," he says. "Having high cholesterol may not cause Alzheimer's, but it has been linked to cognitive problems."
She Schedules Weekly Social Engagements
Tanzi says that staying socially engaged is incredibly important.
"Loneliness has been confirmed as a risk factor for Alzheimer's," he says. "Social engagement and participating in positive, supporting social networks have been shown to be protective against a higher risk for Alzheimer's disease."
Dr. Oz's mom particularly loves singing with a group of people, spending time with friends, and watching documentaries from her era.
She Is on a Vitamin Regimen
Tanzi says that he thinks it is important for everyone to take Vitamin D3, B12 and Omega-3 fatty acids. These vitamins help to fight inflammation, which is an underlying mechanism of early death in Alzheimer's disease, he says.
She Follows a Mediterranean Diet
Sure, Dr. Oz's mom lives in the Mediterranean, which makes it easier to eat well, but this is a diet that can be adopted no matter where you live.
A Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, nuts, vegetables, olive oil, and alternative sources of protein such as fish, legumes, tofu, and mycoprotein from mushrooms. It's also high in fiber and antioxidants and has been shown to reduce inflammation, Tanzi says.
She Walks Regularly
Dr. Isaacson says that it is important to incorporate walking into a weekly routine. He recommends walking at least 3 times a week for 45-60 minutes at a time. Strength training is also important for patients, he says, because it will help to maintain muscle mass.
A recent study from researchers at the University of California found that walking is beneficial to cognitive function in those with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease.
She Learns New Things
Learning new things forces you to make new synapses in the brain, enhancing your cognitive reserve, Tanzi says.
Things like learning a new musical instrument, gardening, crocheting, or learning to dance, are all activities that can help keep patients in the present and active.
"You want to stop the brain from being in its default mode," Tanzi says.
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