IT SNEAKS UP ON YOU
Pat was a model employee. Her steady performance over many years earned her several promotions. But managers above and around her began to notice she was slipping. Things weren’t getting done. Assignments were missed. Her career began to move backwards as she was repeatedly reassigned to lower positions with reduced responsibilities. Then one day while helping answer office phone lines, Pat realized that she could no longer remember who the callers were asking to speak with before she could transfer them.
Pat had become one of 5.4 millionliving with , a killer someone develops every 69 seconds. Currently the 6th in America, it is the only one in the top 10 causes for which there is currently no prevention, cure or even an ability to slow its progression.
Women are more likely than men to have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Some might suggest the reason comes from them living with and having to deal with men (joke), but the truth isn’t that simple. Women currently live longer than men and the incidence of Alzheimer’s increases with age. Currently, approximately one in eight will have it at age 65. If you make it to 85, you have a 50% chance of not getting Alzheimer’s. That’s if you’re white. Alzheimer’s impact upon minorities is nearly three-fold over Caucasians.
IT IS A, NOT A NORMAL PART OF
Despite what some of us have been told to expect, cognitive impairment is not a normal aspect of aging. Growing up, no one I knew was familiar with the term “Alzheimer’s”, but almost everyone knew someone older who was becoming “senile”. If you made it into your seventh or eighth decade, it was understood that your memory could become a little hazy, or worse.
Some baby boomers joke amongst themselves about finding cartons of milk in the dish cabinet orin the refrigerator produce drawer. They’ll frequently pause after entering a room in frustration trying to remember why they were going there. One friend pointed out that while some occasionally complain about misplacing their keys, he regularly misplaced his car.
High blood pressure and diabetes, which are known risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other, are more common in older African-Americans and than in older whites. Levels of formal education and other socio-economic differences between races are also recognized risk factors that favor whites.
So what can we do to ward off the haze of cognitive impairment whether it is Alzheimer’s or other dementias? First, do what you can to get the rest of your health in order. Shed those extra pounds and watch your diet. Diabetes andcan also attack you by stealing your memory and other .
Equally important, while you’re exercising your body, don’t forget to also exercise your noggin. Exercising your brain by stretching it in new directions is perhaps the best proven tonic. If you’re not computer literate, get a youngster to show you how easy it really is. Trade your old flip phone, for a “smart” phone. Kids would rather text than talk, so join the conversation. Always wanted to learn to play the saxophone or piano? Now is an excellent time to start. Being a “lifelong learner” will absolutely improve your brain health.