Weighted Blanket for Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s. With the word being thrown around in countless movies and TV shows, it’s become more of an overused plotline in a cheesy noontime soap rather than an actual, debilitating disease that affects millions all over the world.

But make no mistake, Alzheimer’s is a serious condition that imposes an enormous burden not only on victims, but their families as well.And while there is no cure, there are many ways to alleviate the symptoms of this terrible disease. One such method, is with the use of a weighted blanket.

What Is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurocognitive disease that affects memory, language faculty, comprehension, judgment, and mood, among other things, and is commonly found in adults 60 years and above. 

Dementia is the umbrella term for conditions that slowly destroy a victim’s memory and cognitive abilities enough to interfere with daily life. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get progressively worse.

Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia in geriatric patients, accounting for 60% to 80% of dementia cases. It’s also the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.

In 2010, around 4.7 million people aged 65 years and older were suffering from Alzheimer's disease in the US, and the figure has been climbing ever since.

In 2013, just over a tenth of people over 65 years old in the US have the disease. For those over 85, about a third of their population (32%) is suffering from it. What these figures are telling us is that Alzheimer’s is becoming a more and more common cause of death.

What Are The Symptoms?

Alzheimer's affects everyone differently. Genetic testing to determine a causative genetic mutation from a person's famiy history is necessary to diagnose whether or not someone has Alzheimer's.

Here are the common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Memory loss that affects daily life
  • Inability to plan or solve problems
  • Difficulty performing mundane daily tasks
  • Confusion with locations and times
  • Struggle with visual comprehension 
  • Misplacing objects
  • Poor judgment
  • Trouble with speaking or writing words
  • Decreased interest in work or social activities
  • Changes in mood or personality

Causes Of Alzheimer's

As with all other types of dementia, Alzheimer's is caused by brain cell death, which happens over a course of time. The victim's brain will progressively decrease in size, as the tissue will have fewer neurons and connections.

Although Alzheimer's is not a normal stage of aging, the strongest risk factor for this disease is increasing age. A huge chunk of Alzheimer's sufferers are 65 years and older, but approximately 200,000 US citizens under 65 have younger-onset types of the disease. 

Family history or genetic predisposition are some of the most important variables, and if you have a parent or sibling who is suffering from Alzheimer's then chances are you are likely to develop it as well. 

Aside from age and family history, other risk factors may include a long record of high blood pressure, damage to the head, and neuronal trauma. Females also are more prone to Alzheimer's as they typically have longer life spans than males.

Treatment

Unfortuantely, the cure for Alzheimer's has not been discovered yet. Brain cell death caused by dementia cannot be reversed or stopped. However, there are several therapeutic inventions that may help Alzheimer's sufferers experience a better quality of life.

1. Drug Therapy

Although there is no medication that is able to modify or alter the progress of the disease in a person's brain, there are drugs available to reduce its symptoms.There are currently four medication classified under what is referred to as "cholinesterase inhibitor" for symptomatic relief: 

Donepezil (brand name Aricept)
Rivastigmine (Exelon)
Tacrine (Cognex)
Nemantine (Namenda, an NMDA receptor antagonist)

2. Other Therapy

Non-drug treatments may focus on managing a victim's other symptoms, such as behavioral issues, confusion, and agitation. This can be done by modifying the home environment, or providing the patient with things that may assist with the anxiety and insomnia.

Miran Blanket is one such instrument. This weighted blanket is safe to use for both children and adults. They assist people into achieving a more relaxed state, making them sleep more soundly and more deeply than they ever have in years.

Using a weighted blanket helps ground your body, as the weighted glass microbeads within the pockets push the blanket (and your body) downwards. This process is also referred to as “earthing” or “grounding,” and it gives a deeply calming effect.

A weighted blanket simulates deep pressure touch (DPT), which is a kind of therapy that uses firm, hands-on pressure to relieve stress and extremely high levels of anxiety.

Studies show that this process helps decrease nighttime levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Your brain produces Cortisol, also called your "fight or flight" response hormone, when it thinks you’re under attack. As dementia patients are often undergoing immense amounts of stress, their cortisol levels may be elevated. This inadvertently causes a negative effect upon the digestive as well as immune systems.

Even though the cure for Alzheimer's disease may not yet be within our reach, we can still find ways to improve the lives of our loved ones suffering from this degenerative disease and show them how much we love them, despite it all.