Is there such a thing as AD prevention? As I have suggested before, I am hopeful because of population studies. In some cultures there is far less dementia than what we have in the U.S.. One such culture is the Okinawan culture as presented in the book "The Okinawa Program".
The problem is that there's no guarantee! Do you need a guarantee? Do you expect a guarantee? Sorry, NO guarantees.
Is there a magic bullet we can get from the Okinawans? Green Tea? Fish? Soy? Probably not, but that's what we usually get from commercials. If it's not some kind of pill, it's Green Tea or something else. That's what some have called "reductionism" and I don't think it will work. It's something a little deeper than that. It's more like the whole lifestyle, or perhaps something close to the whole lifestyle. But regardless, there's still no garantee.
You have to be an optimist, like me, to go for the whole ball of wax with no guarantee. It doesn't hurt to be a realist at the same time. In other words, do your homework and don't buy into every fad that comes along.
If you read enough population studies, by different authors, you will likely begin to see a pattern. But darn! Still no guarantees! (I'm just having a little fun with this.)
Seriously, there's too much doom and gloom! Look at the bright side! We now know that brain cells can be regenerated. Just a couple of decades ago most scientists and doctors believed that you could only lose brain cells as you got older. They thought, "once you lose them it's tough luck, you're not getting them back". Thankfully, that's all changed. We CAN regenerate new brain cells.
What about coronary artery disease? Not that long ago (early 70s?) most doctors believed that coronary artery disease was irreversible. Now we know it CAN be reversed through diet, exercise and stress reduction.
There's more but I'm running out of time. Perhaps I'll continue later.
Any comments? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
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I am very optimistic. So much research is being done, especailly since, as our population ages, we will have to spend too much money on dementia care. I expect them to find a cure soon, one that will not only hold back the progression of the disease, but actually reverse the damage.
My Grandmother died of congestive heart failure at the age of 69. My mother got the same thing at the same age ..but it was kept in check with drugs unknown in 1956 until she died at age 99.
My Uncle died of a peptic ulcer rupture. At that time it was unknown that helicobacter bacteria cause stomach ulcers. Today they could have saved his life with a course of antibiotics.
So yes, optimistic! Very!
Last edited by Martha H; 04-05-2010 at 02:33 PM.
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It might be easier to be optimistic if I wasn't deep in the throes of this disease with my mom. Watching her suffer day after day...watching her question her mind.."am I nuts". Watching her lose her language a little at a time. Watching her daily look for her dead husband...missing him so much. Mourning a loss she doesn't understand.
Am I optimistic for her? No. Am I hopeful for my children. Yes.
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I am optimistic!! I am definitely a glass half full type of person. My genetics are in the toilet. Dad's first heart attack was 2 years younger than I am now. 32 years later (only by the grace of new techniques) he died of complications from coronary artery disease and vascular dementia. If he had not survived that first 10 years he would not have been alive for the surgery that eventually gave him another 22 years. I have no idea what advancements will be made by the time I get where he was then. My Mom's family is riddled with Alz. But her disease showed up 10 years later than her Mom's. I could go either route or neither route and proceed on one of my very own.
Yet I am optimistic. I do not live in fear of what might be in the future. I take care of myself to the best of my ability and let life take me where it will go. For now... I plan to live until I die.
By virtue of being human we will all live until we die. We don't know the time or the conditions. We just know that day will come for it is a part of life. Therefore I don't worry about when or how.... I worry about where I put my time and effort before I get there
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What a great attitude Deb!! You always amaze me. I'm more in Meg's camp right now. Going through it at this point in time, it's difficult for me to have hope as obviously it's too late for my DSD. But yes, I think science will figure it out. When is the big question.
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TC.. it depends on your definition of hope. March 3 I knew there was no hope that Dad would be with us but perhaps a few more days. What I hoped for at that point was a few more moment of happiness with him and a peaceful passage. I got both. Thought I miss my Dad I know it was his time. Now I hope I can live up to the promises I made and his expectations. In that way he will live through me. Yep, I can always find hope in any situation for it is the hope that I thrive on. I just adjust my dreams and aspirations so that they are practical and put my hope in what is achievable. It is never too late to have hope for a new day.
Hi again to everyone; thanks for the many good posts. I can relate to losing a loved one. I was my father's caregiver and was with him when he died of AD in 1984. Then I was a caregiver for my mother and was with her when she died in 1994 from hydrocephalus. I also had a grandmother and an aunt who both died with dementia. It's usually a long drawn-out ordeal, very sad and it tests the limits of what we can endure.
What I had in mind with my opening post is that a lot of knowledge seems to be moving in the direction of what we can do for ourselves. As one author has stated, "genes are not our destiny". That was Bruce Lipton in his book, "The Biology of Belief". In his book he gives examples of how genes can be turned on or off. So, if we have a gene for AD, cancer or heart disease, we don't have to get the disease. A lot of what happens is up to us!
Breakthrough research won't necessarily be in the form of a drug or operation. It might be someday but I'm not waiting for it. In my opinion, the all important research is telling us what we can do for ourselves. Like I said, arterial sclerosis can be prevented or reversed through lifestyle. Brain cells can be regenerated through lifestyle. Many forms of cancer can be prevented through lifestyle. Within the last few years clinical studies have shown that slow growing prostate cancer can be reversed through lifestyle.
Okinawans have a lot less AD (and denentia in general) because of their lifestyle. They also have a lot less of all the other degenerative diseases.
And all of the above is the result of scientific research! This is what science is telling us! Science is telling us that we can overcome most degenerative diseases through lifestyle.
Now the part about having fun and enjoying life: Why do most people assume that you can't do the right things and still enjoy life? I love my life and I don't eat any processed foods. In my age group, 9 out of 10 people take prescription drugs. I'm the 1 out of 10 that doesn't because I'm in good health. The others take drugs because they're sick and then have side effects on top of everything. Is that enjoying life?
I have no health problems and only go to the doctor once per year for a general check-up. And, if anything, it's getting booring because my doctor keeps telling me that everything is okay. This year he said, "keep up the good work".
Do you have any idea how fun life can be when you're in good health?
Yes, having good health is a great source of joy and fun. And yet, I don't rule out that a sick person can also be happy and joyful. I have a cousin who has had rheumatoid arthritis since the early age of 19, has had pain and operations and handicaps all her adult life. Yet she brought up 2 fine children, has a wonderful husband, is always calm and happy and contented. Health is great, but not everything. I am always surprised at the long lamentations from people basically in good health but complaining about every little ache and pain ... in contrast to those who know only pain but learn to live with it and smile.
I am one of the extremely lucky ones who has good health and really enjoys life - but I think I could be happy, as my mom was, even in a wheelchair. Mom took great pleasure in feeding the birds in the nursing home courtyard. It really made her happy to throw bread crumbs to them and watch them swoop down and eat. She saved her slice of bread every lunchtime, to take it out later. Someone had to take her down in the elevator in her wheelchair and through the doors to the inner courtyard, where she then sat for hours if the weather was nice. Half dozing, half enjoying the sun, half fantasizing about seeing people long since gone, she had a look of happiness on her face... in spite of dementia, inability to eat well, being wheelchair bound, and in diapers. Maybe that is why she was well loved by the staff.
You can see that she was my role model, even in the worst phase of her life. I only hope I can do as well.
I'm very happy with what aches and pains I do have I am generally in good heath, exercise, read labels before I buy, and shop on the outside perimeter of the grocery store.
My Dad has heart disease for 32 years, starting with a massive coronary that should have been his one and only. He was the only one of 6 brothers that lived past age 60 due to vascular issues. He had two more heart attacks, 5 bypasses, several stints, PAD, A-Fib, and Vascular Dementia. But he was a happy man until the end. Despite the fact I watched him every step of the way I was happy to have the extra 32 years with him and made each time I was with him joyful... until the very last day.
So happiness is not a function of good health. Happiness is a function of what we think. We can fret and worry and hate what we do or we can be grateful and content and love life. I have a good friend with terminal cancer. I am amazed she is even still with us and we don't know what cold bug is going to be her last.... but that lady has a joy of living that is inspiring. Yes, some find exercise grueling. Some find not eating that half pound cheeseburger depressing. Some find making meals from scratch inconvenient. I'm not sure it takes the joy out of their life... just annoys them.
So everything you say is good but I believe that saying it will overpower the gene imprint or change something down the road that is headed our way may be an overstatement. It's like non smoker's getting cancer... not a reason to smoke but you can't guarantee that by not smoking you won't get it
I was an aerobics instructor, ran miles every day, have always been a vegetarian, grew my own food, weighed 104 pounds---and had 2 heart attacks when I was 50. No risk factors at all. No gummy vascular system, no family history. Just "one of those things." I started reading more popular science--magazines and on-line and keep up with the research of all kinds. But the more we find out, the less we know. Lifestyle, environment--how does it all interact. It is the correlations that are hard to make. When I taught college econ, the example I used to warn about the dangers of drawing conclusions was the fact that smokers are statistically more likely to be the victim of serious crime (true). But it is not the smoking that increases your likelihood of being the victim of crime. So you can't draw the conclusion that if you smoke, you will be mugged, no matter what the numbers seem to say. Smokers may be more likely to be in a bar at closing time, or may be more likely to stop at an ATM machine, or something else. Just the simple fact of smoking is not the factor that determines victimization. The news media, I think, is especially susceptible to drawing erroneous conclusions---or to accept someone else's erroneous conclusions. I believe in health and in doing all you can to optimize your chances. But I know from experience, that ya just never know and sometimes you have to make your peace with not knowing. (Best guess for my heart attacks: stress and subsequent inflammation. I have been good for eight years now---but to be on the safe side, I always get a fresh batch of nitro when I go to see the folks!) Love & Light! Lynne/Blue
Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel. (Horace Walpole)
Exactly Lynne!!! We do think a lot alike. I'm with you on the erroneous conclusions and they are rampant. The internet is one of the best spreaders of erroneous conclusions and therefore I am very careful what I put my faith in. Yep, me the skeptic! I love your smoker victim example... I might just have to use that one if you don't mind.
I go back to examples as well. Dad had the low cholesterol numbers. His blood work was perfect. Mom had untreated cholesterol numbers over 300 for most of her life before statins were popular. Guess who had the coronary disease... DAD!! All of his pipes were stopped up!! Mom has had a heart cath in the last few years for an adrenal reaction to steroids and she has NO detectable build up in her arteries. Hummmmm Wonder how that could be?
But I can't be a vegetarian. I eat mostly veggies and fruits that we grow ourselves but I have to have my cow from time to time. I grew up on a far with cows and pigs and chickens. But I have reduced my portion size and make up for that in veggies. I just went out and cut the asparagus and that's on the menu for supper!!
Asparagus?!?! Be still my heart! I put some in here in our sandy soil last year, appropriately amended and we shall see. Can I wait another year? I must. Are you sure we are not related? My mom never met a pound of bacon or designer Wisconsin cheese she didn't like. He cholesterol numbers are off the chart---and her vascular system is a dream. Obviously, her body flushes fat well. She has never been fat. Did I mention the butter?! After my attacks I read everything I could find on heart health and learned there are something like 20 flavors of cholesterol, not just the couple routinely tested for. To get a good fix on risk, a more detailed test is needed, but insurance companies don't pay for it so it isn't done unless asked for. Seems to me that would be one of the simple things we could do to improve health. As for meat, I have never eaten it--even as a little girl it made me gag. So who do I marry? A rancher from CO! He cannot eat beef from the grocery store---says it tastes like corn. On the farm, he ate nothing but grass-fed. The closest he can come now is buffalo. Anything I use here can be used freely by anyone. Good night all! Lynne/Blue
Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel. (Horace Walpole)
Last edited by bluemoonlady; 04-08-2010 at 10:08 PM.
Lynne I think we have to be related on some level!! I am with your hubby. There is something special about the grass fed beef that I grew up on and the beef in the grocery store not only taste of corn but was fed a diet of corn most of it's life. I still relish the fact that I do have a limited source of grass feed beef
My nephew is a hunter, and at my brother's house I have had wonderful venison.. non hormone treated, natural, healthy meat. Outside of that I hardly ever eat meat. My son in law once bought 1/4 of a steer which was grass fed, and I must say that tasted good, and I have a friend who raises outdoor non caged chickens. There is healthy meat if you can find it/pay for it .. but I am a 90% vegetarian. Both of my daughters in law are vegetarians, one of them doesn't even eat eggs or fish. (she is the one expecting a baby in September).
My closest friend loves meat and eats it every day and is thin and healthy at age 77.
I do think some of our longevity and health is hereditary. My Mom lived to be 99, my Dad only to 74 but he was a heavy smoker.
Positive attitude is probaby the best thing for our health.
I love venison! I have a good friend that is my supplier there. I think you are right Martha. Heredity does play a major roll but a healthy positive attitude and managing stress through that attitude is probably our best defense.