September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a time to raise awareness and start difficult conversations around mental health, especially when it comes to caring for loved ones affected by dementia. Nearly 6 million Americans over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s today, and with the older adult population growing by the generation this number could more than double over the next few decades.
Family members and those providing care for AD patients can attest to the aggression and emotional distress that mark the disease at various stages, which can often affect a patient’s ability to receive and stay in care. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease or any of the over 100 forms of dementia, though several treatments show promise in either slowing the progress of the disease or lessening the behavioral symptoms that so often present in it.
If you know someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you want nothing but the best quality of life for them. Increasingly, cannabis is being used by AD patients to reduce stress, improve sleep and increase appetite, all critical components in maintaining a healthy routine. The research behind cannabinoids and dementia is still in its early stages, but the science behind it is promising: In one small study, behavior issues dipped 40% when patients were given measured doses of cannabis, and the need for other, more dangerous psychotropic medications was lowered.
At this time, there are no studies that point to cannabis as a preventative measure to Alzheimer’s by itself. However, THC and CBD have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce free radicals in the brain and protect neurons that aid in memory and cognition from activated brain cells that can harm them over time. CBD specifically has been shown to dampen harmful plaque buildup in the brain in the early stages of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. All of this points to the potential for cannabis to replace prescription drugs that can damage the body’s other systems with chronic use.
With attention turned elsewhere at the current moment, it’s critical to not lose sight of an elderly population that’s often suffering in silence, with the stigmas associated with Alzheimer’s Disease keeping them from receiving the help they need. Our patient advocates at Sol Flower are well-versed in the behavioral symptoms of AD, as well as other cognitive disorders. We are here for you to help you care for those you love – please visit us in Sun City or Tempe to review your options with our team.