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."
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.
The bad news is that one in nine people age 65 and older in America has Alzheimer's, and about one-third of people 85 and older have it. (ref)
The good news is that studies are showing ways to decrease your risk of becoming one of those people.
One of these, the Zutphen Elderly Study, found that those with the highest total fat intake had a 240 percent higher risk of developing dementia. High saturated fat intake increased risk 90 percent and high cholesterol intake increased risk 70 percent.
Examples of foods with saturated fat are: fatty beef, pork, chicken with its skin, cheese, butter, and of course, various processed foods.
A later study showed that carbohydrates, not fat, are the bigger culprit of obesity leading to heart disease that leads to Alzheimer's. In the American diet, the biggest sources of carbs are: grain-based desserts (cakes, cookies etc) and yeast breads. Another very large source is soda pop. Sugar is a known cause of memory loss. (ref)
The easiest way to avoid the "bad stuff" is to follow the WYBIWYG rule. It's very similar to "What You See Is What You Get" or WYSIWYG. The only difference is that it warns: "What You Buy Is What You Get." What we don't have in our refrigerator or cabinet, won't show up on our table.
For most of us, what we see IS what we get! At the grocery, just remember the cow who says, "Eat more vegetables!"