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Is Dementia Avoidable?

Dementia is now a frequent topic of discussion in many Australian homes.

There are two reasons why: it is the nation’s second leading cause of death, and it will affect every Australian family in some way.

But what is being done about Dementia and those with Younger Onset Dementia?  After official diagnosis, is adequate help being offered? One thing is for sure: Dementia patients and their families are being told “there is no cure”.

 

DEPRESSION INCREASING

They are left with one message – there is no hope! No wonder the number of people with Depression is increasing alongside the number of people diagnosed with Dementia.

The news continues to be depressing. In the past 20 years, millions of dollars have been spent on research but so far, in the search for a ‘cure’, each drug has been unsuccessful. With hopes dashed, those living with Dementia can only feel despair.

So, what is happening to stop or slow down the numbers of people being diagnosed now and in the future?

Does the problem need to be tackled from a totally different perspective? The possibility of Prevention requires serious thought: but is it even possible to avoid getting Dementia?

Media reports predicting future statistics for Dementia in the next 20 to 35 years are creating “fear of the future”. When you are told “there is no cure” and read about the future predictions for Dementia, it can certainly make you wonder what hope is there really? Is an epidemic inevitable?

 

HOPE FOR PREVENTION

From my observations, I believe there’s room for hope.  I believe much can be done and it may be possible to avoid getting Dementia.

Dementia does not happen overnight. Health issues do not just happen. It is important to accept that in every health condition, there is usually a ‘Cause’ or reason ‘Why’.

The same principle should apply to Dementia. Is anyone looking for the Cause?  Is anyone asking the reason Why? When a person is diagnosed with Dementia, no reason is given as to why or how he or she actually got Dementia.

I believe that to help those already diagnosed with Dementia and anyone experiencing memory problems, it is essential to go one step further. It would be helpful to try to identify a Cause. And the Cause will be different with every single person, because we are all unique.

We are all at different ages and stages in life, with varied upbringings, health histories, existing health conditions and many different lifestyles. How is it possible to treat such a wide variety of people with just one medication or ‘magic pill’ should one be found? Dementia is not a one-size-fits all condition, but in Australia today that is the way it is looked upon.

I have two examples to explain what I mean.

My mother had Alzheimer’s disease for many years and passed away in 2000.  Before having a fall and breaking her hip at age 77, she was otherwise an extremely healthy, strong and vibrant woman.  She was highly intelligent, very active, did so much voluntary work for many charities and there was never a problem with her memory – sharp as a tack.

 

POST OPERATIVE MEMORY LOSS

She had hip surgery with anaesthetics and after that she was never the same. From my research, I found that there is a medical term called “Post Operative Cognitive Dysfunction” or POCD, which means “memory loss as a result of anaesthetics”.

This condition is apparently very well known in the medical world, and there are many research studies written about POCD. I was not aware of this at all until I was researching why and how my mother got Alzheimer’s disease.

One study states that “the incidence of POCD in the first week after surgery is 23% in patients between 60 and 69 years of age and 29% in patients older than 70 years. POCD was still present in 14% of patients over 70 at three months after surgery”.[1]

I have since learned that there are many people who, as a result of falling, breaking their hip, and requiring surgery with anaesthetics, have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease-Dementia.

 

LAUGHING GAS USED

The anaesthetic used was Nitrous Oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas’.

My question is, why keep using Nitrous Oxide for surgeries when for some people aged 60 and over, there is a possibility it could result in Alzheimer’s disease-Dementia?

The use of this substance should stop and an alternative solution found.

This is just one Cause of memory problems leading to Alzheimer’s disease-Dementia. There are many more, and some, like POCD, unfortunately cannot ever be reversed.

 

CHECK PACKAGED FOODS

Another cause of memory problems that may lead to Alzheimer’s disease-Dementia is – surprisingly – some ingredients in packaged foods. Something as simple as this can, over time, cause extreme damage to your brain cells.

One to be aware of  is Aspartame, an artificial sweetener.  Aspartame is considered to be one of the most dangerous substances added to foods and drinks.

If you buy packaged food products, have a look at the Ingredients panel on the product and if you see (950) or (951) that means it contains Aspartame.  Also, have a look in your pantry and check each product. Many of the so-called Diet drinks contain Aspartame, and if consumed over a lengthy period of time, this excessive exposure can cause damage to your brain cells.

Many of us may not be aware of these two above examples.  This gives you an idea of just some of the possible Causes that may be out there. It is important to find and identify any Cause of memory problems you or someone you know may have. I believe the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease-Dementia requires more investigation and as such could lead to finding hope for the future.

If you are experiencing memory problems, do not jump to the conclusion that you may be getting Alzheimer’s disease-Dementia. As you can see, there may be a more simple reason or Cause for this happening, and you need to find out why.

Once you identify the Cause, then you will have something to work towards for your brighter future and brain health.

 

[1] Lazlou FZ, Carre AC, Forrester C, Sellal F, Langeron O, Pain L, Pathophysiology of Post-Operative Cognitive Dysfunction: Current hypothesis, J. Chir(Paris) 2008 July-Aug; 145(4) : 323-30