Things do indeed go wrong at times, but not as often as we are led to believe. Less than 15% of elderly people have actual memory loss and only half of those cases are due to real organic disease. There are over a hundred disorders that can mimic Alzheimer's, causing considerable misdiagnosis of that disease. Here are a few of the most common- and curable- Alzheimer's like conditions.
1. Loneliness and boredom have become too big a part of too many elderly people's days. From loneliness and boredom comes a loss of interest in the environment, in the self, and in life itself. People who have no interest in the world around them often take on the demeanor of a person with organic mental deterioration. Furthermore, these people often eat poorly, having little interest in food. Their diet is frequently low in protein and this can lead to reduced tryptophan and thus low levels of Serotonin, which can impair memory and cause depression. This physical degeneration worsens their mental state even further. Supplements of 5- HTP may be helpful in these cases.
2. Depression and old age often go hand in hand, as a result of people's loneliness, boredom, or diet. Depression closely mimics Alzheimer's disease and is often misdiagnosed. The benefits of using 5-HTP to alleviate depression have been well documented.
3. Dehydration of 10% or more frequently produces Alzheimer's-like symptoms. Most elderly people's bodies are up to 15% dehydrated from time to time. Elderly people living alone often neglect the oral intake of fluids, and the situation is not much better in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Nutritional guidance and 5-HTP supplementation would benefit most of these folks.
4. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs can dull an elderly person's personality and will to be active, and can cause lethargic mental processes, to again mimic Alzheimer's disease. The average healthy elderly adult takes five pills per day. The average ill elderly adult takes 11 pills per day. Too many nursing homes feel that a tranquilized patient is a good patient and thus distribute drugs to dull their senses and their sense. All medications should be reviewed with a physician periodically and those that are not absolutely necessary should be stopped.
5. Nutritional deficiency among adults is not only a result of other problems such as depression, but it is often a primary problem and can, on its own, cause Alzheimer's-like symptoms. Frequently, it is "too much trouble" to fix a nourishing meal for oneself, so meals are skipped or replaced by high-carbohydrate snacks. This can cause protein deficiency and low Serotonin levels, leading to further depression. Taking 5-HTP and vitamin supplements would be beneficial to these people.
The good news is that these problems and the hundred others that can mimic Alzheimer's disease are all reversible if the causative deficiency is replaced. The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s should not be made until all other possible causes for the symptoms have been ruled out.
Whoever came up with the saying "You can't teach old dogs new tricks!" as a metaphor for the learning abilities of the elderly was way off. The fact of the matter is that if motivated the elderly can actually learn faster and better than the young.
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