You are probably like the rest of us and have been to the doctor for a variety of complaints. Each time, your physician examined you, asked questions, made a diagnosis, and you left with a prescription and hopes that you would feel better as quickly as possible. For many years, the treatment of disease has seemingly revolved around taking the right medications. For example, when you test positive for strep throat, you take amoxicillin and the bacterial infection quickly resolves. If you are diagnosed with a bladder infection, you can take a different antibiotic specific to the bacteria that tend to infect the bladder and viola…the infection resolves! These treatment approaches are convenient, easy and relatively simple.
In medicine, we refer to this treatment approach as a monotherapy. ‘Mono’ means one, and in the context of medicine, generally refers to a single drug or intervention. ‘Therapy’ suggests a treatment intended to relieve, heal or cure a disease. Monotherapy works very well when the cause or trigger of disease is singular and clearly identified. But what happens when the cause of a disease is not so obvious and the contributors are not readily identifiable?
Ask most people about dementia treatment and they will either tell you there is none or they will share a story much like we have heard from our clients for years. One client, let’s call her Martha, put it this way:
“My husband started getting really confused and could not seem to remember anything. His memory lapses were affecting his work as the vice president of a major company. His primary care doctor referred us to a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic, so we had a complete workup there. At the end of it all, the neurologist said, ‘You should get your affairs in order. Your husband has Alzheimer’s disease. I’ll write a prescription for some medication, but it probably will not do a whole lot. Plan to come back in six months and I’ll see if he’s any worse.’”
Martha continued, “Can you believe that!? We felt like a nuclear bomb had gone off in our world and we had no idea how to go forward! Just the cold, hard fact of Alzheimer’s and the promise of slow decline.”
At A Mind For All Seasons, we believe that dementia treatment should look very different than the devastating experience Martha and her husband endured. To understand what dementia treatment should look like, we should provide a little background.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of death in many parts of the world, but there is no singular cause- no readily identifiable single trigger or contributor. If the specific cause is not identifiable, then treatment is more elusive. The quest for an Alzheimer’s cure has largely focused on the search for a monotherapy, but this approach has proven completely ineffective and we have been forced to simply manage the decline of millions of people. Neither accepting defeat and allowing the Alzheimer’s epidemic to continue gaining momentum nor doggedly continuing the pursuit of a monotherapy is acceptable. Much current research is shifting toward a broader approach that uses combination therapy, polytherapy or programmatic treatment strategies.
Combination therapy (often called polytherapy or programmatic therapy) suggests there is a high degree of value to the application of more than one medication or treatment intervention to treat a single disease[i]. Combination therapy has gained momentum in recent years for the treatment of disease, particular chronic diseases that develop slowly over time. A few examples of combination therapy for three of the most prevalent diseases include cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
Cardiovascular Disease is the leading cause of death in America,[ii] and for years the primary intervention was cholesterol lowering medication. However, after years of research and study, we now know that many things can be done to lower risk and treat heart disease. These include controlling blood pressure, stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol, getting regular exercise, managing stress, and the thoughtful use of medications as determined by you and your doctor.
Cancer is often treated with multiple interventions, and research suggests that those treated with combination therapy experience higher response rates when compared to treatment with medication alone. Combo therapy in cancer often includes chemotherapy (medications), immunotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Diabetes is almost always treated with combination therapy. Depending on the stage and severity of diabetes, patients are encouraged to change their diets, exercise to improve insulin sensitivity, and to take a strategically designed combo of medications that can include metformin, insulin, and a host of other pharmaceutical agents shown to improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, slow gastrointestinal transit time, curb appetite, slow the release of insulin from the pancreas, etc.
So, what about Alzheimer’s disease? Can combination therapy make a difference? You bet it can, and we are experienced in helping our clients set-up and navigate a personalized and customized combination therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. Our system is based on the research of Dr. Dale Bredesen, an internationally recognized neurologist and expert on the mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease[iii]. In many cases, these triggers of dementia can be addressed and resolved, and the symptoms of their dementia can resolve. In a landmark study[iv] that changed the way professionals approach the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Bredesen outlined his initial approach and coined it the ‘Therapeutic System.’ It became known as The Bredesen Protocol. This approach became the springboard to his expanding influence among a network of health coaches across the country. Dr. Bredesen’s system is now called ReCODE[v] (REversing COgnitive DEcline).
We believe that Alzheimer’s is not the end of the road! Dr. Bredesen’s published papers describe many individuals whose cognitive scores, abilities, and quality of life improved dramatically. We have seen exactly the same thing with hundreds of clients at A Mind For All Seasons. While a multi-modal approach to Alzheimer’s disease is not a cure, it is very effective in preventing dementia and makes a very positive difference for those who already have a dementia diagnosis.
In short, we believe it is no longer acceptable to say, “There is nothing that can be done to treat Alzheimer’s.” There is A LOT that can be done!
Traditional efforts and monotherapy (prescription medications) to treat dementia have fallen short and left individuals yearning for more help, more guidance, more options. As you can see, Dr. Bredesen’s ‘Therapeutic System’ is complex, can feel overwhelming, and you will likely need a translator and medical interpreter. Individuals with early cognitive symptoms or caregivers striving to care for a spouse with dementia often need help. They need a guiding light and a hand to hold. That is where A Mind For All Seasons steps in to clear the confusion and point the way to systematic treatment. We have developed a very comprehensive program that makes it as easy as possible for people concerned about brain health to take meaningful steps to improve or help a loved one to improve.
Our program, called The Enhance Protocol®, is like having the benefits of a doctor, dietitian, health coach, counselor, dementia expert, and best friend rolled into one convenient service.
The Enhance Protocol is designed for people everywhere and we have made it easy to participate- even from the comfort of your living room. We complete much of our coaching over the telephone or via video platforms like Skype or Zoom. We customize an approach specific to your needs. We can help you to prioritize goals and interventions, and we lead you through a combination treatment approach that helps you reach your full potential. For some, diagnostic testing, lab work and medication reviews are the best starting point. For other clients, focused diet and lifestyle coaching may be the best starting point. Regardless of your age, your current health, or your level of cognitive decline, we’ll help to design a system that lifts and propel you in the right direction.
We work with individuals with all levels of dementia and we cover the spectrum of cognitive decline. We love to work with those who have a higher risk of dementia due to their family history. Prevention works and it can be powerful! We work with those who have not been formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but they know that something is ‘just not right’ with their brain. We work with many clients whose spouse just received news that they have Alzheimer’s disease and they are in panic mode and feeling lost. They are searching for something legitimate, something concrete that they can implement and follow. We also work with many individuals with advanced disease who are residing in assisted living or memory care. In other words, we offer tools to help you improve your mind during every season of life!
If you would like to learn how to protect and improve your brain, call our experts at 208-378-2860 or click here.