Can we reverse memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s?

two senior woman running at a pier.

The medical world has recognized Alzheimer’s for more than a century, since it was discovered in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer. The form of dementia was first described as simply “a peculiar disease,” but research in the field has uncovered new understandings and developments toward a cure for the condition. After more than 100 years, it has continued to be considered an irreversibly disease, slowly deteriorating seniors‘ cognitive function, short-term memory and ability to carry out even the most basic tasks. Now, a major breakthrough has led researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, to claim that they’ve developed a program that can actually reverse memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s.

The UCLA Study

The study, which was published in the journal Aging, was conducted by UCLA’s neurology department in collaboration with the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. It was a small project that involved 10 patients, half of whom had either early-stage Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment. The rest of the subjects were either diagnosed with advanced-stage Alzheimer’s or were suffering from subjective cognitive impairment, in which they scored normally on cognitive tests but complain of dementia-related problems in everyday life.

These participants took part in the treatment program, which was created by neurology professor and lead researcher Dr. Dale Bredesen. It consists of 36 parts, and each patient’s program is specially tailored to meet his or her needs. It revolves around a basic concept: simple changes in diet and physical activity regimen can fix the synaptoclastic-synaptoblastic imbalance that has been found in people who have this form of dementia. While they may be basic changes, such as exercising six days per week for at least 30 minutes per day and cutting gluten out of your meal plans, the researchers noted that they cumulate into a severely different lifestyle that many participants found difficult to maintain.

The stunning results

After completing the program, nine of the 10 participants showed significant improvement in memory function within three to six months of program attendance. Six of the participants who had quit their jobs due to the condition were even able to return to the workforce after the study. The one patient who did not show improvement after finishing the program was in the late stages of dementia. The researchers followed up with many of the patients after the study, and as much as 2.5 years later, the improvement in memory remained.

With these results at hand, the researchers will design a larger study to test the effects of the program on a more diverse group of Alzheimer’s patients.

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