Sunday, January 13, 2013

Alzheimer's: The Big "A" Word

     A few days ago I read a blog about keeping warm in the winter. I made the comment that "selective amnesia " helps me keep warm. The blogger is quick with a comeback and said, "Don't forget your coat."  I got a good chuckle from the reply. Then I stopped and thought that there was a very serious side to to the comment. People do forget their coat and go outside. Some of them are caught but unfortunately some are not found and perish. These are people with dementia. 

    Now before I go any further, I am not an expert on dementia. I follow two blogs which cover Alzheimer's from time to time and they are excellent.

    Today there was a column in our local paper in Alshiemer's so it really got me thinking. I am 73 years old and at an age when dementia is all to common. Seniors my age worry about dementia. We have seen relatives and friends deal with dementia and it's not a pretty sight. It's a challenge  for caregivers and is certainly difficult for the sufferer.

     The gist of the column today was that there's no cure or prevention for dementia, but there may be things we could do to possibly delay the onset of dementia or make it's progress less critical. Naturally I looked at the seven suggestions and considered how I stack up. Have I been living the right life?

    The first suggestion was to have been cognitively  active. Will my reading and  doing puzzles be any good for me? How about "free cell?

   Next, I've never been a person with high stress level . I was a middle school teacher and I did not let stress get to me.  I learned to deal with stress .

 I do stay connected with people. I volunteer and I like to visit.

   I don't have high blood pressure , diabetes obesity or high cholesterol. These things make it difficult to adapt to new situations.

    I am very active. Today I cross country skied for half an hour. After I finish this post I will go for a half hour walk.

    The one I have a problem with is concussion or repeated blows to the head. I've never had a concussion that I know of but I bang my head on things regularly. 

   So out of the six strategies I pass on five. The sixth I have problems with.

    Will this be enough to help me delay Alzheimer's? Will I be one of those people who get Alzheimer's?

    So we worry about dementia. It's common with about 750000 people in Canada with Alzheimer's. We can only hope that we do not get Alzheimer's. 


26 comments:

  1. i believe our society is going to be in big trouble soon, with an epidemic of folks w/ dementia.

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    1. The baby boomers are really going to help this.

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  2. Alzheimer's seems terrible to me. You forget who you are, and who your friends and family are. I don't think you have much to worry about, Red. But what do I know? I'm old, too! :-)

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    1. I can't worry about something that hasn't happened. I think that Alzheimer's has a lot to do with heredity.

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  3. I think "Free Cell" is one way to keep the neurons in your brain firing! Crossword Puzzles..reading..all good things. The big A is a worry for us all as we age..every time I am forgetful I think is it the big A? I hope not. :)

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    1. I think most of us are pretty forgetful but Alzheimer's means we don't know what to do with something like your shoes go on your feet.

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  4. I just hope you are okay. I'm ten years younger than you and dread medical intervention if anything happens to me. One has no control over the doctors these days.

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    1. You have to be your own advocate with doctors these days. I parted company with my old Doc. we are both 73. Not a good plan to have a 73 year old looking after a 73 year old.

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  5. Red I personally think that exercising the brain helps prevent Alzheimer's and that you do, you also exercise your body and keep fit and healthy. I also believe the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, after all if we get Alzheimer's will we even remember what life was once like or does one get stuck in a happier place? All we have is this very moment in time, I try to enjoy each moment of my life as much as I can and if I ever get Alzheimer's it won't matter which time I'm stuck in if I have mostly positive memories in life... that's my theory.

    ... and don't forget your coat if there's white stuff on the ground! ;-)

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    1. Exercising the brain pays many benefits. First of all we're much happier. Yes, what ever happens happens. Sad to see people who are completely confused and upset about it.

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  6. I think these things help, but I have a friend with serious dementia and he was active and heathy his entire life until this. We all wish we knew the causes and preventions.

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    1. I think heredity probably has more to do with it than anything else.

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  7. Thanks for your mention of my blog. It's reminded me that I've been somewhat lazy over the holidays and haven't posted for a while. One thing my husband's gerontologist told us early on in Allen's treatment was that all the brain-challenging work Allen was doing to help delay some of the effects of his particular form of dementia might work for a while. But the disease would still be progressing physically. And eventually we might see a later but more sudden decline in performance, instead of a gradual decline - ultimately leaving Allen in the same place. And that seems to be what has happened over the last six or so months. We're now at a sad point where Allen can no longer do many of the puzzles and other activities he was doing a year ago. Not knowing how bad this particular form of dementia (primary progressive aphasia) will get is one of the harder things to deal with.

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    1. I've always been impressed with the material you write on Alzheimer's so that's why I put a link to your blog. I hope you don't mind. I should have asked about this. I'll know better next time.

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  8. OK, so here's the other side of the coin. The experts lead us to believe if we keep our minds busy, puzzles, read, exercise, no or little concussions, etc,etc,etc, we stand a good chance of not moving into the "Alzheimer's/Dementia world at all or perhaps not as fast. My dear friend has been active all her life, involved in stimulating her mind with reading, puzzles, all the things you mentioned above, however, she is in the first stages of Alzheimer's" in a nursing home and still doing her puzzles every day. Here at 64 yrs - all of a sudden - one week made a huge difference in her life. I think a lot of these things are in us already and something stimulates a start. I have seen many younger (65-70's) become stricken with some form of dementia. I rather agree with TexWisGirl above in her statement about an epidemic of folks w/dimentia. I shall continue to keep myself active in the way that I do and as I look at my family history, we have been most fortunate to advance into later years (92-97) with all mental and physical abilities still in tact.BUT, then, one never knows, Eh?

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    1. I think heredity has more to do with Alzheimer's than anything else. Sadly it's quite common for folks to get dementia at the ages you say.

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  9. I have a feeling you will be spared this dreadful disease.

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    1. It would be nice if everybody was spared. However , if you get it you're goin' for the ride like it or not.

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  10. I lecture to a lot of folks dealing with family members with dementia. I truly do not think we can slow it down after a certain age.
    Those brain games won't do a thing, methinks.
    It comes from a lifetime like yours of being active, physically and mentally; eating correctly; socializing; good genes and taking care.
    My clients with dementia have taught us a lot. I think my generation has learned much, and won't be seeing this in the numbers they predict!
    Here is an article I wrote: 10 Tips for talking to someone with dementia:

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    1. Thanks. I'll take a look at this.

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  11. Since my maternal grandmother had dementia and "A" (I'm not writing that word)I hope I don't get it. Ever. If I do I hope I don't know it...but it doesn't work that way...you get to know before it gets where you don't know.

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com

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    1. Alzheimer's is a long slow miserable struggle. I like what Ronald Reagan called it, "The long good bye."

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  12. I have a very dear friend in her early 70s who has been diagnosed with the A word. She has no other health issues and has ALWAYS been very mentally active. Physically & mentally active and now stricken...I think you hit on something in one of your comments that will prove to be a large factor in a lot of diseases & how our body handles it, STRESS...Oh to rid myself of bad stress & bitterness, I AIN'T GOT TIME FOR THAT!

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    1. Alzheimer's certainly has no respect as to who it chooses.
      Good on you for kicking the stress.

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  13. I have dementia in both sides of my family...more in my father's side however...in his early 80's he used to ask me if I thought he would get it as his brother had developed alzheimer's...I figured it would have shown up by then, but didn't...when he stopped driving at 87, the dementia showed up fast...when he started going out late at night and getting in people's cars, we decided it was time for a home...he is now comfortable there and will be 90 next month...it is a very difficult thing in which to deal...I have my Long term insurance policy in place so that when it's my turn, I'm ready...I do the puzzles, the brain work, the exercise, etc...hopefully that will stave it off...

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    1. It's kind of scary sometimes when we look at what our elders had. For me , we have a streak of late onset Parkinson's.
      Good that your Dad is comfortable. They can get pretty agitated at times.

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