Memories do matter: Dealing with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Whether it is for you or a loved one, an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis can feel incredibly overwhelming – but there are ways to take positive steps forward.

And that includes being able to hold on to precious memories for longer.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder, resulting in impaired memory, language, thinking and behaviour. The Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation says around 1,800 Australians are diagnosed with dementia every week.

Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of the ageing process, and symptoms can develop in some people as early as 30 years old.

What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?

In the early stages these can very subtle, often beginning with lapses in memory and difficulty finding the right words for everyday things, says Dementia Australia.

Other symptoms may include vagueness in everyday conversation, loss of enthusiasm for life, deterioration of social skills and problems with processing instructions.

How does Alzheimer’s disease progress?

Dementia Australia says the rate of progression varies depending on the individual and the areas of the brain affected and may last from three to 20 years, with an average of eight years from diagnosis.

A person’s abilities can also fluctuate from day to day – with stress, fatigue and ill health all playing a part.

Steps to help slow progression and support memory function

The good news is there’s a lot you can do to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease:

1. Boost your daily nutrition

There are numerous studies, including this one from Italy, published in the Journal of Neural Transmission, which show that a healthy and well balanced  diet – and getting the right nutrients – can make a real difference in slowing cognitive decline.

Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A, C and E (anti-oxidants), B vitamins and choline have all been shown to be important.

2. Get that body moving

Scientific evidence is also finding that regular exercise can lessen effects of the disease.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia reviewed more than 150 studies on the impact of physical activity on people with Alzheimer’s, finding it not only reduced the risk of diagnosis but also improved the performance of daily activities for those already with the disease.

3. Train your brain

Keeping the brain busy with activities that keep you feeling engaged and challenged at all ages can significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s in later life, according to multiple studies, among them this one from Harvard University.

Keeping your brain healthy after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Market leader Souvenaid® offers a medical nutrition drink that has been proven[1,2] to nutritionally support memory function in early Alzheimer’s, when taken daily for at least six months.

Free from gluten-containing ingredients and low in lactose, it’s a single-serve drink that you can drink straight from the bottle or mix into a delicious smoothie or chia pudding.

Its unique formula contains omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A, C and E, B vitamins and choline, all important nutrients that are the building blocks needed to maintain connections in the brain.

It can be taken alone, or in combination with Alzheimer’s disease medication.

Written by Liz McGrath.

*This post is brought to you by Souvenaid®. Souvenaid® is a food for special medical purposes for the dietary management of early Alzheimer’s disease and must be used under medical supervision.

[1] Scheltens P et al. Alzheimers Dement 2010; 6: 1–10.e1
[2] Scheltens P et al. J Alzheimers Dis 2012; 31: 225–236