Seeing a loved one slowly lose their memory due to conditions such as Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairment disorders can be heart-wrenching. A cure for these conditions is nonexistent, but treatments to improve their quality of life are evolving, and Alzheimer’s natural treatment options are becoming a popular supplement. Oftentimes, when someone reaches a certain threshold of severity, they will transition into a nursing home where round the clock care is provided. Unfortunately, insurance companies often will not pay for this level of service until the cognitive impairment is severe, thus making the transition extremely difficult and potentially dangerous to the person whose memories are fleeting. There may be exceptions to this scenario, but this has not been my experience.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are two conditions that I’m all too familiar with. The hurt and pain that comes with watching a loved one slowly slip away. The feeling of helplessness that overcomes you, as you try to search for answers and anything that can help them hold onto those precious memories. I’ve had two loved ones pass away from the horrid disease, and am currently watching two more struggle with the late-term effects.
Writing this article isn’t easy for me today, especially with the images of these loved ones sitting on the bookshelf in front of me, but I feel it’s important to share my own research on treatments. Writing for a weighted blanket company has encouraged me to look beyond the printed literature and make connections that are merely anecdotal and have not bloomed into a full-fledged study. I am very much a type-A individual and seek solace in having control over situations. Writing for you today is my sense of control over a seemingly hopeless and devastating situation.
When most people think of Alzheimer’s, they think of the memory loss, but there are more issues at hand. Imagine that you woke up in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, how would you react? Would you feel calm? The behaviors and emotional turmoil associated with these diseases are just as important to consider as the memory loss. Creating a safe and comfortable environment is essential. As aforementioned, there are no cures to this dreaded disease and there isn’t anything currently available to bring the memories and cognitive functioning back, so we are left with the goal of comfort and relaxation as our primary objectives.
When you type into google “Alzheimer’s treatment,” you will quickly become overwhelmed by the abundance of information. As I sifted through this information I found a lot of information on medications to mitigate specific symptoms. This article won’t focus on those because that’s not something that family and close friends have control over when trying to help their loved one. (However, a family can certainly advocate for their loved one if they observe negative side effects as a result of the medication regimen!) When searching for Alzheimer’s natural treatment options, the results can quickly become even more overwhelming.
Where do you start? What do you try? If you try too much at once, how will you determine what’s actually working and what’s ineffective? When dealing with a disease where time is of the essence, choosing the “right” Alzheimer’s natural treatment approach can create a lot of pressure (and potential fighting) amongst those that are closest to the person with Alzheimer’s. I do not know any better than you when it comes to your loved one, and I cannot sit here and tell you that adding coconut oil to their diet will surely mitigate some of the grave effects associated with Alzheimer’s. Nothing is absolute in science and medicine due to the idiosyncratic nature of each individual.
How can Weighted Blankets Act as an Alzheimer’s Natural Treatment
To narrow down my scope, and prevent this article from becoming a novel, I will fixate on weighted blankets. Hey, this is a weighted blanket research blog! At this time, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester is recruiting participants with dementia to determine if weighted blankets can help mitigate aggression. It is anticipated that the study will be completed by June 30th, 2021, so we will certainly provide an update with those results when the data are published. I hypothesize that the findings will reveal a reduction in agitation as weighted blanket use reduces sympathetic arousal, and thus people who are experiencing cognitive impairments are likely to feel calmer and more grounded.
There are likely some challenges with using weighted blankets in this population though, as they have reduced muscle tone and we want to make sure that the blanket is heavy enough to provide therapeutic benefit but not so heavy that the person is restricted (which could create a sense of panic). However, finding that ideal weight and working through the trial and error of that perfect sensory-issue free blanket has the potential to unlock many benefits including improved calmness and sleep.
No, a weighted blanket won’t bring back the memories that have been stolen from the disease, but it can provide comfort and in a situation where everything feels helpless and uncertain comfort means a lot. Between the stress reduction component, sleep enhancement, and swaddling comfort, I hypothesize that a weighted blanket would be a relatively easy intervention to implement into treatment for Alzheimer’s.
As I sit here and write about the potential connection between weighted blankets and cognitive impairment diseases, I’d like to propose a hypothesis. Please, by all means, chat with us on social media and give your input on my theory.
Excessive stress is detrimental to one’s health. Stress is linked to premature death, all kinds of life-threatening physical conditions, and of course mental health disorders. Alzheimer’s patients live with stress, and they experience more stress when they are confused or are unfamiliar with the environment. Weighted blankets mitigate stress and have been shown to reduce the body’s stress response in multiple clinical trials. Therefore, with this line of logic, I want to go out on a limb and say that a weighted blanket may have the potential to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s. If stress exacerbates the progression of the disease, then remaining calm may do the opposite.
Resources For Caretakers
In addition to providing some theories on weighted blankets as part of a treatment plan for Alzheimer’s, I would also like to provide additional resources and support pages. I understand that each case is different and people navigate distress in different ways, so if you are uninterested in weighted blankets, then I hope you will at least find some benefit in the following resources. And, if you have found a resource not listed that has been helpful to you, please share on our facebook page.