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."
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
We could ask, for our study of dementia, does loneliness lead to the physical condition (Higher Cortical Amyloid Burden) that is a symptom of Alzheimer's? Or, do people with Alzheimer's grow lonely due to their decreasing ability to interact with others?
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that loneliness may be a cause as well as a result of Alzheimer's.
Loneliness is a debilitating condition. Since the majority of people with dementia are older adults, and since older adults are often isolated from society due to health issues or retirement, it stands to reason that they may deal with loneliness everyday.
The idea offered in this blog post is simple: If we know an older person who is alone a lot, let's reach out and visit. It is a simple way we can help them to be in better health.
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.