I recently read that people over the age of 70 are more concerned about Alzheimer's Disease than cancer, heart attack or stroke. This is a valid concern, based on statistics and the fact that no one survives Alzheimer's Disease. At this time, there is no surgery, chemotherapy, or prosthesis device to mute the damage done to neurological functioning caused by Alzheimer's Disease.
As a person who has lost two close relatives to Alzheimer's Disease, I try to concentrate on the things I can do to keep my brain healthy with the realization that even the safest driver can be struck by a car crossing the median. In other words, I do not let the possibility of dementia rule my life while I maintain a healthy respect for the disease and support efforts to alleviate suffering for the patient and the caregiver.
The Alzheimer's Association recommends keeping a healthy heart for a healthy brain. Keep your cardiovascular system healthy through regular exercise. (walking several times a week listening to your favorite music on your I-pod)
Maintain a schedule of events outside your home that bring you in contact with a variety of people. (join some groups that challenge you to be socially involved)
Consider learning a new language or skill at your own pace. (become computer friendly, learn to text by phone, learn a few phrases in another language, dust off that piano and buy some easier sheet music, try new recipes, visit the library regularly and check out historical fiction shelves)
Make it a habit to wear your seatbelt, eat foods that are rich in antioxidants (try apples, spinach, sweet potatoes, cranberries, blueberries),and keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels within recommended ranges.
Find a little bit of joy in every day, appreciate beauty in art and nature, deepen your spiritual life through worship, prayer and kindness to others then relax your expectations of yourself and as a wise support group member said, "play the cards you have been dealt".
To meet with others who know the way this disease can manifest itself, join us any 2nd Monday at 1:30pm at Statesboro First United Methodist Church in room 200. Caregivers are welcome to attend this small, confidential, support group affiliated with the National Alzheimer's Association and sponsored by the church, whenever they can get away from their caregiving duties. You do not need to pre-register but you may call 1-800-272-3900 24 Hour Helpline number for assistance, referral or information.
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