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Hopes for a Healthy Future, Fears of Forgetting the Past

 

"I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life."
“I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.”

I don’t know about you, but now that I’m fully in my Midlife, I sometimes can’t help thinking about what will be the “The Big One” as Redd Fox’s iconic character Fred G. Sanford made famous. Will it be Heart Attack, Cancer, or a tragic Accident? My fear is it will be the one I dread the most, Alzheimer’s.

By the way, if you are morbidly curious at this point like I am and are wondering what the current top “Big Ones” are, here’s the link to a 2013 CDC data study. (Alz is #6)

Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the idea of just losing yourself; your intellect, your memories. Becoming an empty, disoriented shell of what you were. This has got to be in my opinion, the worst way to go. Not only for you but for family and friends, especially for family and friends, you aren’t aware enough to notice what’s going on most of the time! No one made a braver public face of this than President Reagan, but no matter who you are or what your life’s work, it is a sad and tragic end to a human being’s life.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased 68% from 2000 to 2010, while deaths from other major diseases have decreased. Alzheimer’s disease is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

WOW, the more I look into this the worse it gets. What’s the good news, or should I say is there any good news?

Again according to alz.org. Currently, there are five FDA-approved Alzheimer’s drugs that treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s — temporarily helping memory and thinking problems in about half of the people who take them. The drugs work by either slowing down the disease activity or preventing the buildup of excess glutamate on damaged brain cells.

Several new drugs show promise, but researchers are in need of volunteers for clinical trials. If you or someone you are caring for are interested in helping please go the Alzheimer’s Association’s trialmatch website for more information.

There are also alternative treatments, again they may only help temporarily in the patient’s ongoing battle with dementia. Caprylic Acid/Coconut Oil and Omega-3 fatty acids are two of these supplements and or “medical foods” that some claim helps in the brain function. The alternative treatment’s effectiveness is based mostly on testimonials.

The chief omega-3 in the brain is docosahexaneoic acid or (DHA), Two studies reported at the 2009 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease (AAICAD) found mixed results for the possible benefits of DHA. Experts agree that more research is needed, and there is not yet sufficient evidence to recommend DHA or any other omega-3 fatty acids to treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. More details on alternative treatments and this study can be found here.

Is there anything I can do now to cut down my chances of developing Alzheimer’s ?

There is no magic vitamin or food that can thwart the onset of Alz or dementia, but there are some things that you can do to help yourself. According to Medical News Today and experts from the University of California, San Francisco, over 50% of all Alzheimer’s cases may be prevented through lifestyle changes. This involves reducing important risk factors, including:

  • not smoking
  • being physically and mentally active
  • combating low education
  • properly treating or preventing chronic diseases and conditions, such as hypertension, high blood cholesterol, diabetes,obesity in mid life, and depression.

Canadian expert, Dr. Kenneth Rockwood of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, explained in the journal Neurology that if you pay attention to health factors not traditionally linked to dementia such as vision, hearing, or how well dentures fit, you may also reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Along with risk factors and other health factors is just plain staying active and being in shape. New data just released by the 2014 AAIC conference points to Moderate Exercise in Middle Age Is Associated with Decreased Risk of Dementia

The research, conducted by Yonas E. Geda, M.D. and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic states, “Of the growing body of research concerning lifestyle and brain health, and also the possibility of reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, perhaps the strongest and most consistent evidence exists for regular physical activity.” Dr. Geda also stated, “In our studies, we found that physical exercise at various levels, especially in mid-life, is beneficial for cognitive function…. These are intriguing results, but they are not yet conclusive. More research is needed to determine the extent and nature of physical activity in protecting against MCI and dementia.”

This is just a quick & dirty overview of Alzheimer’s and related Dementia. If you need to look into this subject in more detail, then I urge you to speak to your Doctor and visit websites such as:

The Alzheimer’s Association

Mayo Clinic

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

I think it’s time now to go hit the gym, and make a workout to remember. Why don’t you join me and let’s have a Healthy Midlife!