Watching my mother succumb to severe memory loss is very sad for me. She is 86 years old now but I started noticing memory issues about 6 years ago. Since then I’ve watched her submerge deeper and deeper into some black hole transforming her into someone I don’t recognize.
I feel bad for her, that she’s not herself any longer; incapable of carrying on a conversation, of remembering what someone just said even though they’ve said it over and over for her, a bit paranoid that people are stealing her things, that I will be putting her in the Psychiatric Hospital just because I had a cognitive battery done on her, etc. And I also feel bad for my 91 year old father who is her caregiver and only companion. He insures that she takes all of her 20 pills/day, gets her 3 daily insulin shots, eats her meals that he prepares for her, etc.
I am embarrassed and feel guilty for feeling concerned for myself related to this disease. But it is the truth. My mom seems perfectly content. She seems unaware that she is repeating herself. My dad seems to have accepted his situation as fate quoting his vow taken 60+ years ago, “in sickness and in health”. But me, I am terrified that this is my fate too and I will not take it lying down.
I will go out kicking and screaming. I’ll start that noise right now by engaging in preventive measures. I thought I’d share them with you in case you have similar fears?
I know Alzheimer’s is a complex disease with factors like age and genetics, which we have no control over but there are many others we can influence. Focusing on the latter, here’s what we can do:
Make it Regular – it’ll encourage the development of new brain cells! It’ll reduce the risk of ailments that lead to memory loss, (diabetes and cardiovascular disease) alleviate stress, anxiety and depression which of course will result in a healthier brain. According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent! And it will also slow down the decay process in those who have already developed the disease. Cross-Train with these activities:
- Aerobic-Jump Rope
- Balance/Coordination -Yoga, Tai Chi
- Weights/Strength/Resistance Training
These foods contain antioxidants which can keep your brain cells healthy Say, ‘YES’ to:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Salmon, Trout and other cold-water fish
- Berries and dark-skinned fruits
- Coffee and chocolate
- Teas: Green, White and Oolong
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil
- Cruciferous Veggies
- Olive Oil
- Whole Grains
- In addition to the particular foods eating several small meals throughout the day will maintain steady insulin and blood sugar which is beneficial to brain/memory functions.
Trans fats and saturated fats can cause inflammation and produce free radicals which are not conducive to efficient memory function.
Say, ‘NO’ to:
- Processed cheese
- Processed meats
- Beer. (Most beers contain nitrites which have been linked to Alzheimer’s.)
- White foods (bread, rice, pasta -spikes insulin and sends toxins to brain)
- Microwave popcorn (contains diacetyl, a chemical that may increase brain plaque).
The following supplements have shown to be beneficial in the prevention or delay of Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms as well as preserve and improve brain health:
- Folic acid
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Fish Oil
- Vitamin E
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Coenzyme Q10
“Use it or Lose it,” is the brain motto which is the same as every other muscle in our bodies. These mental activities will help your brain work better and lower the risks of mental decline.
- Play games you are not already familiar with and those that involve strategy
- Crosswords and other word puzzles
- Number puzzles such as Sudoku, Ken Ken
- Learning new things- musical instrument, foreign language
- Take a course in an unfamiliar subject
- Practice memorization- poems, states/capitals
- Step out of your comfort zone- Take a new route, eat with your non-dominant hand, rearrange your furniture,vary your habits.
Research suggests that disrupted and inadequate sleep is a possible risk factor for Alzheimer’s! Sleep is required for the process of forming and storing memories and the growth of new neurons.
Don’t miss out on your sleep! Read this article if you have trouble sleeping:
Cortisol, the stress hormone, damages the brain over time and can lead to memory problems. Stress that is chronic or severe takes a heavy toll on the brain diminishing nerve cell growth and increasing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
These simple methods can minimize stress and its harmful effects:
- Breath Work
- Spiritual Practices
Studies show that the more connected we are, the better we do on tests of memory and cognition. Staying socially engaged may shield you from Alzheimer’s disease so develop and maintain quality face-to-face interactions:
- Join a Book Club
- Join a Walking Group
- Join a Committe
- Host/Attend a Party!
Other Lifestyle Factors
- Stop smoking! It’s one of the most preventable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. A significant study found that smokers over the age of 65 have an 80% higher risk of Alzheimer’s than non-smokers.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. Both high blood pressure and high total cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
- Maintain appropriate weight. Extra pounds are a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
- Drink in moderation. (1-2 drinks/day maximum) Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption dramatically raises the risk of Alzheimer’s and accelerates brain aging.
- Maintain Optimal Hormone Levels
- Address Depression Early-Chronic depression causes stress in the body which stimulates the immune system to fight as it would an infection by causing inflammation. This inflammation over time leads to the production of toxic compounds that kill brain cells, spurring memory loss and dementia.
My Own 2 Cents
- Crystals: Certain crystals emanate a vibration that can assist in memory maintenance and development. Why not carry one or 2 of these around with you. They will not hurt you and they are beautiful to look at and meditate with: Fluorite, Emerald, Moss Agate.
- Detox: Before you start your healthy food regimen, it is my advice to clear all the toxins out of your system that have been stored for years. The detoxes I recommend are very gentle and do not require you abstaining from food.
Check the status of your memory by trying these online tests.
*Please be sure to always check with your Health Care Providers before starting any new health program!*
Lisa Hassett, Reiki Therapist, CYT
Healing For Body, Mind & Spirit
Visit Me On Social Sites!
Reiki of Greater Boston
Healing for Body, Mind & Spirit
505 Waltham Street, Suite 2
West Newton, MA 02465