Dementia now in decline!

Good news! Recent information reveals that Dementia risk is declining.

Some encouraging news in the battle against Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia: The rate at which older Americans are getting these conditions is declining. That's according to a study published Monday inJAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers say one reason for the improved outlook is an increase in education. The study used data gathered in two snapshots, one in 2000 and another in 2012, that each looked at more than 10,000 Americans who were at least 65 years old. In the first snapshot, 11.6 percent of them had some form of dementia. In the second snapshot, it was 8.8 percent. Put in more human terms, "that's well over a million people who don't have dementia, who would have had it if the rates had stayed the same as 2000 rates," says John Haaga, who directs the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute on Aging, which funded the study.

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Conditions, Causes and Coping

A person with Huntington's disease usually– but not always– has a genetic disorder, and not everyone with that disorder will be affected in the same way. While some with Huntington's will lose ability to move and speak, not all experience the same symptoms or develop every symptom. By strengthening our immune systems we can often avoid "worst case scenarios."

We live in a time where medical research into what causes a disease is often successful, and sometimes we can learn how to sidestep ravaging diseases.

For example, scientists have learned that pesticides are culprits in memory loss and dementia.

As we all grow older, we can do our best to avoid things that are known causes of dementia, many that we have looked at in this series. And when loved ones develop those symptoms and conditions, we can help them to cope.

Here are some thoughts on "coping":

It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools — friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty — and said "do the best you can with these, they will have to do." And mostly, against all odds, they do.
- Anne Lamott
If you are faced with a mountain, you have several options.
You can climb it and cross to the other side.
You can go around it.
You can dig under it.
You can fly over it.
You can blow it up.
You can ignore it and pretend it’s not there.
You can turn around and go back the way you came.
Or you can stay on the mountain and make it your home.”
- Vera Nazarian

If you are helping a loved one with dementia to live well despite the downsides, we salute you.

Let us know if you liked this series on "Getting older and memory."

Can Flavonoids Help Parkinson's Patients?

A person with Parkinson's has muscle tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement, impaired balance and a shuffling gait. Dementia (the topic of this blog series) does not affect everyone with Parkinson's, but often will. Memory impairment and trouble concentrating can show up with the increasing neurological problems.

If someone you love is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, you may begin to research for ideas to help them. One concept you will come across is the usefulness of "flavonoids."

Flavonoids are phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables. They are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits.

Inflammation plays a major role in a number of diseases including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart failure, autoimmune diseases, and Parkinson's. Reducing inflammation is a goal of treatments to reverse or lessen the symptoms of these diseases. Diet and nutrition can help with this.

Each family will hear treatment options from doctors and others with valuable insights, and today, many people are open to alternative therapies that may not be mentioned in the doctor's office.

A story about a natural therapy that has been on TV and the internet reports the usefulness of coconut oil which is rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids. In the video, a doctor describes its usefulness for her husband's medical condition.

Another story tells about a Parkinson's patient who was helped through taking a number of tablespoons of coconut oil with each meal. He says, "I still have Parkinson['s] symptoms, but my quality of life has vastly improved."

Trying new things when life becomes difficult because of dementia and related troubles is a way of coping that may bring good results.

Actively seeking information and answers puts us in the driver's seat for our own health or for those we watch over. Let's pool our insights and keep a positive outlook.