Tuesday, October 7, 2014
To help reduce the risk
If you've been following the blog for any length of time, you know that my grandmother is suffering from dementia. While this severely affects the family as well as the person going through the disease, it starts your own wheels turning. Is this genetic? Am I going to get it? What would I/my spouse do if one of us did?
Within the past two weeks, I had a few incidents that gave me cause for concern. Twice in the same day as I was preparing several things in the kitchen, I turned the oven off instead of just the timer. I set the timer for 10 minutes instead of the 15 I knew I needed to set it to. I've never done that. I was taking on a lot at the time and stressed out but I brought it to the Mr's attention and he said that the fact I recognized it right away was a sign to him that it was stress and nothing worse. When you have dementia in your family, you freak out at anything that could be a sign of the disease down the line. It's a very scary proposition and even if you could take a test for free that would tell you whether or not you're going to get it as an adult, would you want to live with that cloud hanging over you? Would you want to know you're pre-disposed and it may or may not ever come to fruition?
For me, I am going forward assuming that I have a higher risk of getting it and am doing what I can to help reduce the risk.
Diet plays a big part in helping to reduce the risk. More whole foods, less processed, etc. This should be a rule for life but if you have dementia/Alzheimers in your family, this becomes even more important. Lots of fruits and veggies and omega 3 fatty acids. This is very frustrating for us as a family because some of the few times my grandparents get out of the house is when they're going out to sodium and fat laden restaurants. I have taken a few dinners over, my aunt has bought food and left instructions for easy dinners but sometimes they are not always made or eaten in a healthy amount of time. (Grandpa, penicillin growing on dinner means it's no good, not scrape it off and nuke it) Oy.
Exercise is another huge defense to help in the battle against Alzheimers. Keeping active is something any doctor will tell you is very important to reduce incidents of any disease, not just Alzheimers. This is another thing that unfortunately, my grandparents aren't doing. I don't consider walking from the parking lot to the restaurant, exercise. He used to ride his bike all of the time and while that's not something she can do with him, they do have a very walkable neighborhood so we need to encourage him to get off his patootie with her or if he won't, then I'll just go grab her and walk around especially with the weather cooling off a bit.
High blood pressure and cholesterol-
High blood pressure and high cholesterol may be associated with Alzheimer's risk as well. Just another good reason to get those thing under control. Thankfully she seems to be good on that front but with the meds comes a voracious appetite and she's gained weight. That needs to be watched closely so these conditions don't become an issue in the future.
If you'd prefer to hear it from the horse's mouth, Alz.org says:
Regular physical exercise may be a beneficial strategy to lower the risk of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia. Some evidence suggests exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow. Even stronger evidence suggests exercise may protect brain health through its proven benefits to the cardiovascular system. Because of the known cardiovascular benefits, a medically approved exercise program is a valuable part of any overall wellness plan.
Like exercise, diet may have its greatest impact on brain health through its effect on heart health. The best current evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, also may help protect the brain. A Mediterranean diet includes relatively little red meat and emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats.
I'm sure most of you have seen commercials for pay sites who tout keeping your brain sharp. Well, you don't have to pay for the privilege, you go here, here or here to get free brain games to help keep your memory and cognitive skills sharper. I do them every day. My mom and aunt have a baggie of circles there in different colors and they have her sort them into piles when they visit. They also have her sort a deck of cards by color or suit. It would be great if this was done with her daily. She needs the mental stimulation.
What diseases potentially run in your family? What, if anything, do you do as preventative measures?
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Labels: Well Being