AT OUR MAY 19 MEETING WILL BE STEVE ANDRIKO, COME AND ASK QUESTIONS ON
ALZHEIMERS OR DEMENTIA.
“Reduce the Risk of
Are you concerned that one day, in the not too distant future, you will be
featured on the Silver Alert Missing Elderly billboard? There have been
several multi-decade studies that demonstrate people who actually had
Alzheimer’s disease but did not exhibit symptoms. Let’s find out what these
people did have in common.
Of the clinical studies that have been conducted, the Nun Study, by Dr.
David Snowden, et.al., a study of nearly 700 Catholic Nuns to examine the
development of Alzheimer’s disease and its related dementia, is the most
powerful. There was no intervention in the lives or activities of participants
throughout this multi-decade study of cognitive evaluation, which began in
1986. All participants agreed to a brain autopsy upon death. Some
participants displayed Alzheimer’s disease during autopsy but did not
exhibit DEMENTIA SYMPTOMS!
Other clinical studies have also examined the relationship between Alzheimer’s
and dementia arriving at very similar conclusions, notably, the FINGER research
project conducted in Finland.
First, one must understand the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that kills brain cells. When enough brain
cells are killed, memory and cognitive function are affected. Dementia occurs
when that condition progresses to the point where one cannot function without
assistance. Dementia is an umbrella term of which Alzheimer’s is the most
common cause. While, currently, there is no prevention, treatment, or cure for
Alzheimer’s disease, there is hope to avoid its dementia. These studies
discovered 3 regions of focus for each individual:
- Increased blood flow to the brain
Density/Cognitive Reserve: The creation of alternate brain pathways
- Optimism: Maintain a positive attitude about life
most effective way to increase blood flow to the brain is exercise. The FINGER
study quantified the amount necessary for brain health - 10 minutes of walking
daily. The walking pace is not specified as brisk or even consecutive minutes.
Adding caffeinated beverage to your diet will also increase the blood to the
brain. Other conditions and substances also help: sleep (7-8 hours), dark
chocolate, and even 1-2 alcoholic beverages per day. Yes, I now classify vodka
martinis as brain health food.
Intellectual Density involves expanding brain pathways, not mental IQ. We think
like we drive - on superhighways. Therefore, we use only a fraction of our
brain. When pathways are blocked by disease, it is advantageous to have
established alternate routes. The most effective method of achieving this is
socialization. This is why retirement communities with their built-in
socialization are a good option for seniors. You can also create new
pathways by games and puzzles. Opt for a variety of puzzle options to expand
different areas of brain activity. Other activities such as group exercise
following a leader, dance lessons, learning a foreign language, and even
brushing your teeth using your non-dominate hand expand pathways. Variety is
the key element to the entire Cognitive Reserve expansion.
one needs to maintain optimism. If you are not naturally optimistic, you can
fool your brain by faking a smile. After 5 seconds it becomes a real smile, and
you cannot have a bad attitude when smiling.
There is no guarantee that these techniques will work flawlessly for you. All
people are different. However, I know of a group of people who had Alzheimer’s
disease in their brains but experienced no symptoms. I’ll do what they
Reduce the Risk of
Developing Dementia: Are
you concerned that you or a loved one may be the next feature on the
"Silver Alert-Missing Elderly" billboard. Learn to apply some simple
life-style techniques that do not involve special foods or supplements to enhance
your brain health.
a Certified Dementia Practitioner, is the author of The Road Map
to Senior Care, a book that discusses the landscape of senior care. As a
noted public speaker, Stephen routinely delivers presentations regarding senior
care options. He is also a member of the Alliance of Professional Health
Advocates. He is also a Marine!
Richard L. Halferty USNR (ret)
Lone Star Chapter of Korean War Veterans, Inc.