The word “Alzheimer” brings fear, worry and concern to people all around the world. That is why every year more than five thousand doctors, scientists and social workers come to the International Alzheimer Congress.
This article is about my experience at the Alzheimer’s Association 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease (ICAD), which met in the old and beautiful city of Vienna, Austria. People from many countries around the world came to share the latest ideas, thoughts and theories in dementia science.
Walking along the hallways, talking to the participants, listening to discussions and presentations, I remembered a song of Dolly Parton’s: “A coat of many colors that my mother made for me….”
That how I saw the international scientists putting their pieces into the puzzle as they teased out the mysteries of Alzheimer’s. So many people from different perspectives and disciplines, coming to piece together the quilt that is Alzheimer treatment and research.
The most important topic was the significance of early diagnoses of Alzheimer’s.
• is vital to receiving the best help and care possible
• affects key decisions about treatment, care and future planning.
• helps patients live life to the fullest
• capitalizes on opportunities such as participation in clinical studies,
New software for memory testing presented by multiple computer companies should be useful for early detection.
Different ways to detect memory decline early include:
• a doctor’s positive attitude and receptivity to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis
• trusting, personal relationships with patients
• changing a doctor’s priority from identifying medical illnesses to noticing even mild cognitive impairment
• asking the patient very specific questions related to memory decline
Important things to emphasize during treatment include:
• eating a “heart healthy” diet
• participating in moderate physical activity
• keeping a positive attitude
• improving brain blood circulation
Pharmaceutical companies presented the results of trials of a new generation of drugs. Multiple posters and presentations related to studies of the use of vitamins and supplements for treating Alzheimer’s patients also evoked a lot of discussion.
Our two posters created great interest.
The first poster, describing how our integrative treatment program preserves memory decline for 36 months in demented elderly patients suffering from cardio-vascular diseases (hypertension, coronary artery disease and high cholesterol) and diabetes, caused a lot of attention and discussion in front of the poster. We presented the results of our team’s work with patients with mild to moderate memory decline and multiple medical problems.
These patients were treated with:
• a set of our unique exercises designed to have a positive affect on brain blood circulation.
We were proud to show that during 36 months of treatment patients’ memory did not go down and, in some cases, improved, despite of medical problems.
Our presentation was the only one of this kind. It was picked up by medical media from many countries.
Our second poster showed that it is possible to observe the preservation in visual learning abilities, even in patients at different stages of dementia. The level of learning abilities depends on the nature of visual signals. The 5-minute recall was better when people memorized flowers, compared with words and numbers.
These preliminary, optimistic results encourages us to continue the development of different, multi-faceted treatment modalities. We have a highly educated staff of physicians, assistants and social workers. We are devoted to educating our patients, their caregivers and the general public on the importance of combining dementia treatment medications with lifestyle changes. Special attention has been given to techniques which modify brain blood circulation, one of the impairments in seniors with dementia.
Our two mottoes:
• Treatment starts in the office and continues at home.
• Walking is for the heart, hand exercises are for the brain.