Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia diagnosed in the aging population worldwide.
Dementia is a cognitive impairment that can occur with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. Most types of Dementia are degenerative, meaning they are nonreversible.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and someone develops it every 67 seconds. It is the sixth leading cause of death.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. The cause of Alzheimer’s is still not clear, and there is no cure. As the average life expectancy has increased over the past few decades, so have the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Unless a cure or other preventive measure is found, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that by the year 2025, 22 million individuals worldwide will develop Alzheimer’s disease.
But there is help and hope for those who suffer from it. Researchers around the world are working on a number of treatment strategies that might change the course of the disease. And acupuncture is one of them.
Acupuncture has shown promising results to treat the depression and anxiety associated with Dementia, as well as to increase patient’s verbal and motor skills and to increase cognitive function. Two well-known studies on the matter came out of Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, and at the University of Hong Kong.
In the Wellesley study, Dr. Nancy Emerson Lombardo and a team of colleagues at Wellesley College in Massachuestts studied 11 patients, 10 with Alzheimer’s and one with vascular dementia. Subjects were treated with acupuncture twice a week for three months, with each subject receiving a minimum of 22 treatments. Patients were subjected to a variety of tests before and after being treated. The results stated “statistically significant improvements” in the depression and anxiety scores of patients.
In Dr. Kao’s study, eight patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease were treated at the University of Hong Kong. After being treated, Kao’s team reported that patients “significantly improved” on measures of verbal orientation and motor coordination and had higher overall Mini-Mental Status Exam (MMSE) scores. They also noted that patients “showed a significant overall clinical improvement” on the TCM checklist, leading the researchers to conclude that acupuncture treatment “has shown significant therapeutic effects” in reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Knowledge is power. Check over this list from the Alzheimer’s Association.
Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
2. Challenging in planning and solving problems
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality
If you notice any of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor. If the disease is detected early, medical intervention can extend the period during which patients and their families can enjoy a relatively high quality of life. Acupuncture can help!
Emerson Lombardo N, et al. Acupuncture to treat anxiety and depression in Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia: a pilot feasibility and effectiveness trial. Presented at the World Alzheimer’s Conference, Washington, D.C., July 9-18, 2000.
Kao H, et al. Acupuncture enhancement in clinical symptoms and cognitive-motor abilities of the Alzheimer’s disease patients. Presented at the World Alzheimer’s Conference, Washington, D.C., July 9-18, 2000.
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