Evaluation of non-drug treatment options for Alzheimer's disease
Kim, Eun Sung
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Alzheimer’s disease has been described long ago, yet the illness is yet to be fully understood. Though it is true that research and technological advancements have brought us closer to understanding the disease, a truly effective pharmacological cure has not been discovered. With no permanent cure to rely on, AD patients and their caregivers still go through profound struggles in navigating through life with the disease. In this thesis, current literature on the non-pharmacological interventions is presented and discusses the various options that can provide the greatest relief and reap the most health benefits for patients. In total, four different non-drug treatments come into discussion - exercise, music, diet and cognitive interventions. In terms of exercise, research suggests that anaerobic work may be more beneficial than aerobic exercises in preventing the development or progression of mild cognitive dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This is mostly due to the fact that anaerobic exercises can shift APP processing away from the non-amyloidogenic pathway and increase BDNF levels to offer improved neural protection. Music therapy intervention is evaluated next. This unique treatment is highly valued due to its beneficial effects on AD patients’ emotional well-being. Music therapy can take the forms of singing in groups or as an individual, and it can also incorporate dancing. Not only does music promote neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, but it also alleviates mood, boosts confidence and strengthens will. Diet is another significant component that can have an incredible impact on the AD patients’ wellbeing. Research reveals that diets high in saturated fatty acid should be avoided. On the other hand, diets mirroring the Mediterranean diet, including polyunsaturated fatty acids along with high amounts of vitamin C and folic acid should be readily consumed. Moreover, spices and herbs such as capsaicin should be used in a limited manner to decrease risk for AD. Finally, cognitive therapy is still a popular method for treating mild cognitive impairment and AD. Though cognitive improvement appears to be more modest, some psychostimulation programs combined with pharmacological treatments can play an influential role in achieving cognitive stability. Further research is needed in upgrading the current non-pharmacological interventions with an emphasis on the four treatments. These are available at an affordable cost and can be easily incorporated into the lifestyles of Alzheimer’s patients.