When Mary Newport's husband Steve was struck with Alzheimer's at the age of 53, she worked tirelessly to find a research study that he could participate in an take advantage of the treatment effects the study would provide.
While searching for a suitable study she also found out that AC-1202 (medium-chain triglycerides [MCT]) was found to improve the symptoms caused by Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is also known as type 3 diabetes because the brain of people with Alzheimer's does not use glucose and the cells therefore die. Therefore the ketones from MCT can replace glucose and feed the cells so they can continue to work, meaning each neuron will continue to communicate with each other.
Coconut oil also provides ketones, which is the reason why Mary has been feeding her husband Steve with 20 grams of coconut oil in his morning oates every day. She then increased the coconut oil and MCT oil dosage to three times a day. Symptoms of diarrhoea and possibly vomiting means the person can't tolerate the dosage and it needs to be decreased.
Before taking the oils Steve was rejected from a study because his mini mental state examination (MMSE) score was only 11, which was too low to participate in the study. He also could not draw a clock. She was rejected from another study, until she found out about ketones. Before Steve attended the MMSE test for a second screening, Mary fed him 2 tablespoons full of coconut oil with his oats for breakfast. One the one hour drive to the test, they were practicing for the MMSE test (e.g., what is the day, what is the month, what is the season, etc). As usual he struggled to remember, when when they arrived and he completed the test his score was 18. He's score for the first screening was 14. He was then accepted in the study.
There is an argument that 20 grams of MCT or two tablespoons of coconut oil is not enough to make a difference, and others say that it is enough. Moreover, people with the gene Apo E4 (which Steve had) were unlikely to see any benefit from MCT. However, Steve showed improvements quickly.
Improvements included remembering how to complete daily tasks with little or no help, improved mood, improved memory, able to complete the clock test (however not a perfect drawing but better than his previous attempt) commonly used for people who have dementia and able to communicate well. By the time Steve started taking the oils he was in moderate the severe stage of Alzheimer's which includes symptoms of severe memory loss (can't recognise family members), difficulty with daily tasks (needs a lot of help), signs of physical capabilities (incontinence, trouble with gait and eating with support). Therefore, his improvements were substantial, however he declined again if he did not take his daily dose of MCT.
Mary has been working tirelessly to communicate the benefits of ketones for people with Alzheimer's as her husband's improvements were remarkable. However, in 2012 he suffered from an illness such as gout, and was prescribed with prednisone to reduce the pain and swelling. The prednisone caused Steve to constantly pace and obsess about things. A year later he showed symptoms of Parkinson's symptoms (tremors) and was prescribed valium to improve his sleep and to relax him. After three weeks of taking valium he began pacing, and obsessing again together with sweating. Mary later found that valium commonly causes akathisia (a movement disorder) which includes symptoms of sweating, pacing and chattering in older people, especially those with dementia. Steve started having infections amongst other complications, continued to decline and passed away in 2016.
During Steve's journey with Alzheimer's, the daily dose of MCT improved his quality of life and may have also prolonged his life. To this day, Mary continues to promote the benefits of MCT and advocate for more research so the benefits of MCT for people with Alzheimer's can be further understood. Taking MCT may also prevent Alzheimer's as it can improve the energy between neurons and brain health, however to my knowledge there is no study to verify this claim.
Source: Newport, M. T, M.D. (2013). Alzheimer's Disease: What is There was a Cure? (2nd End.). Basic Health: CA.
Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder (NCD) due to Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease that includes a decline in memory and learning, changes in behaviour and personality, physical symptoms, confusion, impaired capacity to eat, chew and swallow and incontinence. The symptoms will interfere with daily living.
The Diagnostic Statistical Manual, fifth edition (DSM-5) now includes probable and possible Alzheimer's disease for both major and mild NCD. Probable type for mild NCD means that there is evidence of a genetic mutation from either genetic testing or family history. Possible type for mild NCD means that there is no genetic mutation but there needs to be evidence of a decline in memory and learning, the decline is progressive and there needs to be an absence of other neurodegenerative or cerebrovascular disease or other contributing factor to cognitive decline. Probably type for major NCD includes clear evidence in a decline in memory or learning, the decline is progressive and no evidence of mixed etiology or if there is a genetic mutation otherwise possible type of major NCD should be diagnosied.
Understanding these symptoms will help the person caring for them realise why the person with alzheimer's disease will, usually, present with short term memory loss at first. This can be frustrating for the carer if they don't realise that the lapse in remembering instructions or learning new things is actually from their illness not from being difficult.
Alzheimer's is not a normal part of ageing, but age related. It is preventative meaning that you can prevent the onset of Alzheimer's by a eating healthy diet, and exercising your body and mind.
Alzheimer's disease is known to be caused by low blood flow to the brain resulting in senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles ultimately causing the neurons to die and miscommunicate. The miscommunication will cause challenging and confusing behaviour, which may include aggression, a lack of impulse control, hallucinations, and psychosis, however understanding the person's life story will help the carer get to know why the person with dementia is acting in such a way.
When caring for a person with Alzheimer's it is important to consider the psychological and behavioural aspects to improve their quality of life. They still have an identity that needs to be considered and respected. They are more than their illness but a person with a history that needs to be shared and appreciated.
Understanding Alzheimer's will help you understand how to care for the person with the illness better. However understanding the person's identity and life story is just as important.
Source: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Neurocognitive disorders. In Diagnostic and Statisical Manual of Mental Disoders DSM-5 (pp. 591-643). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
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