AboutAlz.com Ends Regular Run

It’s been three years since I began this blog. I started it as a way to seek answers for myself. The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of dementia is staggering and the projected numbers are mind-boggling. Each year we are hopeful for the one miracle drug that will cure AD, but we have not reached our goal.

The untold number of hours that caregivers spend caring for their loved ones cannot be measured. It indeed takes a huge toll on their physical and mental health as well as their financial burden.

When I look at the visitor statistics for this blog, I know that other people are looking for answers as well. Although I am encouraged by the numbers to continue this blog, my situation has changed and I have accepted another challenge which requires that I devote some time to achieve success. I may return to writing this blog in the future, but I hope that it will not be necessary as we will have solved the problem and eliminated Alzheimer’s disease.

If I can summarize what we can all do at this point, it’s everything you would do to keep your immune system healthy such as:

  • Get adequate sleep every night.
  • Take enough Omega 3 and other necessary supplements. (Check with your health care provider).
  • Exercise as vigorously as you can.
  • Find enjoyment in life. Do things that you really love to do. Just because it’s been said that crossword puzzles are good for the brain, if you don’t enjoy it, why are you engaging in it?
  • Be grateful no matter what situation you are in. There’s a lesson to be learned in everything.

The Alzheimer’s organization is one source that has been very helpful in keeping us posted with the latest news and there are other sources that I’ve mention in this blog as well. Do check its Web site periodically. As I say good-bye for now, I thank you for your support.

Dancing and Mental Acuity

This is an old study completed in 2001 and reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, but one that covered 21 years, a significant period of time. The study, done at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, measured the mental acuity in aging by observing rates of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, of 469 seniors 75 and older. The focus of the study was to see if any physical or cognitive recreational activities influenced mental acuity. Dancing was the most beneficial.

The cognitive activities included:

  • Reading books
  • Writing for pleasure
  • Doing crossword puzzles
  • Playing board games or cards
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Participating in organized group discussions

Physical activities included:

  • Playing tennis or golf
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling
  • Dancing
  • Walking for exercise
  • Doing housework
  • Participating in group exercises

Today, almost everything you read suggests that physical activity plays an important role in maintaining your brain as well as your heart. In this study, however, almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia. This study specifically looked at whether or not there were ways to reduce the risk of dementia and the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing!

Here are some of the results:

Dancing frequently – 76% – the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.
Doing crossword puzzles at least four days per week – 47%
Reading – 35%
Bicycling and swimming – 0% reduced risk
Playing golf – 0%

The researchers believe that the dancers are more resistant to the effects of dementia as a result of having greater cognitive reserve and increased complexity of neuronal synapses. Like education, participation in some leisure activities lowers the risk of dementia by improving cognitive reserve. They also said we need to keep as many of those paths active as we can while also generating new paths to maintain the complexity of our neuronal synapses.

More recently, Science Daily reported in 2010 that two recent studies conducted by University of Missouri researchers found that participation in dance-based therapy can improve balance and gait in older adults. Improved functionality among seniors can decrease their risk of falling and reduce costly injuries.

I love line dancing and I attend classes when my schedule permits. This video is a link to one of the sessions and as you can see, not everyone learns at the same pace, but everyone has a lot of fun. Eventually,we all get it. The short Asian woman in green in the back row is 80 years old. What an inspiration. Now that I know the huge benefit of dancing, I will definitely want to continue.

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10 Ways to Maintain Your Brain

The Alzheimer’s Association has a booklet called, Maintain Your Brain, and subtitled — there is growing evidence that lifestyle can affect your brain health. You can obtain this 16-page online booklet by clicking here. If you want a quick summary, the 10 ways to maintain your brain discussed are:

  1. Head first
    Good health starts with your brain. It’s one of the most vital body organs, and it needs care and maintenance.
  2. Take brain health to heart
    What’s good for the heart is good for the brain. Do something every day to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke — all of which can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s.
  3. Your numbers count
    Keep your body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels within recommended ranges.
  4. Feed your brain
    Eat less fat and more antioxidant-rich foods.
  5. Work your body
    Physical exercise keeps the blood flowing and may encourage new brain cells. Do what you can — like walking 30 minutes a day — to keep both body and mind active.
  6. Jog your mind
    Keeping your brain active and engaged increases its vitality and builds reserves of brain cells and connections. Read, write, play games, learn new things, do crossword puzzles.
  7. Connect with others
    Leisure activities that combine physical, mental and social elements may be most likely to prevent dementia. Be social, converse, volunteer, join a club or take a class.
  8. Heads up! Protect your brain
    Take precautions against head injuries. Use your car seat belts, unclutter your house to avoid falls, and wear a helmet when cycling or in-line skating.
  9. Use your head
    Avoid unhealthy habits. Don’t smoke, drink excessive alcohol or use street drugs.
  10. Think ahead — start today!
    You can do something today to protect your tomorrow.
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