Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that affects not only the individual, but typically also the family around them. There has been an increase in people relating that they had to have an elderly family member come live with them because they were no longer able to function normally on their own cognitively, or that there were concerns about their safety. It can change family dynamics and produce a ripple effect of stress. So, what can you do when someone has the beginning symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but has not yet been given the official diagnosis?
The first thing is to be aware of the changes classified as AAMI. This stands for age-associated memory impairment and it represents a precursor of full-blown Alzheimer’s. The hopes of identifying changes as early as possible gives the opportunity for intervention and possible correction. The criteria for AAMI includes the following for an individual:
- Over the age of 50
- Not already diagnosed with dementia
- Still having intellectual function to remain adequately productive
- Complaints of gradual memory loss
- Objective evidence of memory loss on performance tests.
It is estimated that 40% of people between the ages of 50-59 have it and it increases by 10% every ten years. Fortunately, there is a simple brain ingredient called phosphatidylserine that could help reverse these trends. Phosphatidylserine is a key component of the cell membrane and is essential to cell-to-cell communication and the transfer of biochemical messages into the cell (especially within the brain and central nervous system).
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition tested a theory that phosphatidylserine may help improve memory function in older adults. For the study, 78 elderly people with mild cognitive impairment were assigned to six months of treatment with phosphatidylserine supplements, or a placebo. In tests performed at the end of the six-month period, participants with relatively low memory scores at the start of the study were found to have experienced a “significant improvement in memory”.
In another study, a group of people with a brain age of around 64 years were placed on phosphatidylserine 100 mg three times a day for 3 months. Using before and after double blind testing, researchers showed a 30% improvement in memory! That’s like rolling back the hands of time a full 12 years! These people had marked improvements in everyday memory items like phone numbers, faces and names and even placement of glasses and keys.
While it is not a cure, it may be worth adding phosphatidylserine to a daily supplement routine if AAMI is making its unwanted presence known already.