Dementia Care – We Can Do This!
In years past during our medical training, we would never dare to out loud use the words dementia and prevention in the same sentence. We were taught to say, “there’s nothing we can do, come back in a year”. But new thinking and daily practices of several medical centers around the country and the world now offer a new, more hopeful and effective model for dementia care. Dr. Gil Livingston of the UK’s international Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention says that if you fix just 12 of the several dozen currently known and modifiable dementia risk factors, then up to 40% of dementia may be preventable. Dr. Dale Bredesen of UCLA and the Buck Institute in California believes that if all known risk factors are assessed and well-managed that it is likely to be more like 80% of Alzheimer’s dementia could be preventable. We now know that by changing our lifestyles according to protocols like Dr. Bredesen’s, we can actually change the expression of even a very high risk genetic makeup for diseases like Alzheimer’s dementia.
Of course this is not going to make Pharma any money, and doesn’t exactly fit with our training’s biomedical model – that all medical problems are the results of a particular drug deficiency. Precision medicine, or functional medicine as others call it has now demonstrated that there are many possible and additive roads to dementia. How could a single, or even a handful of pills fix multiple, errant metabolic and physiologic pathways to dementia. And by the way, the dreaded amyloid Beta protein that accumulates in the Alzheimer’s brain is NOT THE CAUSE of the pathology, but rather the result, as the body uses the amyloid to fend off germs, toxins and metabolic failures that really are the CAUSE of the pathology. Billions of research dollars spent on amyloid removal proved that we can remove amyloid, but surprise, when we did this with drugs subjects got worse, not better. The amyloid has been defending us all these years – and even now, there are still researchers trying to salvage this down the rabbit hole “search for a cure”.
Our Central Minnesota Dementia Community Action Network nonprofit will promote and get us engaged in practicing a new model of dementia care that emphasizes prevention, dementia risk assessment, diagnosis and management based upon risk abatement and management. The 5.8 million Americans living with dementia and their 18-20 million care partners cannot wait 17 years for us to fill the care gaps. Sure, life got tougher with Covid19, EMRs and flourishing complex care, but D-CAN stands ready to collaborate with our community clinicians and dementia services providers on our mission to improve access to quality dementia care in our community.