Tags: Alzheimer's/Dementia | omar | sharif | alzheimers | treatment

Alzheimer's-Stricken Omar Sharif: What Are His Options?

By    |   Tuesday, 26 May 2015 12:56 PM

Legendary actor Omar Sharif has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at a time when treatment of the brain-wasting disease is at a crossroads.

Extraordinary research is underway and is starting to show promising results. There are many potentially game-changing treatments in the pipeline being tested. However, prevention and a cure remain elusive.

Last week Sharif’s family revealed that the star of Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia was suffering from Alzheimer’s and was having a hard time remembering the details of his famous movies.

For patients like him, medicine can now offer quality-of-life-improvements and extended longevity, said Gary Small, M.D., one of the nation’s foremost Alzheimer’s experts.

“We don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s, but proper treatment could extend the years that Omar Sharif has left and enable him to live a meaningful life with his family,” said Dr. Small, author of the new memory-improvement book Two Weeks to a Younger Brain.

“Alzheimer’s disease robs people of their minds very gradually, so if he is in the mild, or even the moderate stage, he still could have a lot of meaningful years ahead of him.”

Sharif was once ranked among the world's best bridge players, and this high-level brain activity may have delayed the onset of the disease, Dr. Small said.

Diet, exercise, meditation, and other measures can all help slow the decline, said Dr. Small, professor of psychiatry and aging, and director of the UCLA Longevity Center. There are also drugs that can improve symptoms, if not halt disease progression.

“There is a lot of research going on, but we don’t have that blockbuster treatment yet,” he said.

Sharif, 83, probably would not be a candidate for current Alzheimer’s studies testing so-called anti-amyloid drugs because such research is focused on high-risk patients who have not yet shown symptoms, said Dr. Small, author of the Mind Health Report newsletter.

“We know that the physical evidence of Alzheimer’s begins accumulating decades before people develop symptoms,” he said. “So researchers are currently working on ways to protect healthy brains.”

Dr. Small recommends these steps for Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment:

• See a doctor. If you suspect you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, see a doctor as soon as possible because there are drugs available to improve symptoms.

• Follow a brain-protective diet. This includes lots of healthy omega-3 fats, fish, fruits, and vegetables that are high in antioxidants. Eat avocado, nuts, and flax seed. Stay away from refined sugar, which is inflammatory. Brain inflammation is linked to Alzheimer’s.

• Stay at your ideal body weight.

• Exercise daily. Take a brisk walk, swim, or perform any activity that will help get oxygen to the brain.

• Reduce stress. Meditation or tai chi can help.

• Perform mental challenging tasks. Do puzzles, learn a language, take music lessons, read challenging books.

• Provide emotional support. Help and support people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.


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Legendary actor Omar Sharif has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's at a time when treatment of the brain-wasting disease is at a crossroads. Extraordinary research is underway and is starting to show promising results. There are many potentially game-changing treatments in...
omar, sharif, alzheimers, treatment
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2015-56-26
Tuesday, 26 May 2015 12:56 PM
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