Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New News about Alzheimer's

A couple of recent comments in news and emails cause me to reprise an earlier blog on Glen Campbell and his June announcement that he was diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s symptoms.  The news was that his Glen Campbell’s Last Tour started September 2nd and that his record, “Ghost on the Canvas”, was released last week.

The email came as forwarded from a friend and included comments by Gary Small, M.D., Director of the UCLA Center on Aging that focused on factors that can positively and negatively affect the onset of Alzheimer’s.  He was impressed by a recent book titled, “100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s” by Jean Carper.  The book suggests that many lifestyle factors, which we can control; like cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, depression, education, nutrition, sleep, and mental, physical, and social activity can be adjusted to prevent the onset of the disease.

Doctor Small summarized the book by listing his favorite 10 suggestions:

1.      Drink coffee or other non-sweetened caffeine drinks

2.      Floss (as a dentist, this has special appeal)

3.      Google and other internet activity (as a blogger, this is up there with flossing)

4.      Aerobic exercise and strenuous mental activity

5.      Drink apple juice

6.      Protect your head (never too early to start this)

7.      Meditate

8.      Pump up your Vitamin D uptake

9.      Fill your brain with a rich level of life experiences (Harness your Heritage)

10.  Avoid infection (back to number 2)

He also captures several suggestions from the book on nutrition and specific lifestyle actions.  But I was surprised at one omission: Social contact and support.

More than twenty years ago I was made aware of what was then a longitudinal study of nuns, wherein they took ongoing cognitive tests and then when they died, their brains were examined for evidence of dementia.  The surprising results were that the tests seemed to indicate much less brain deterioration than the physical evidence would suggest should have been the case.

Several conclusions suggested themselves.  Perhaps, the community support allowed members to “lose” some mental activity and concentrate on other areas that were tested.  Perhaps the religious surrender took some of the stress out of their lives.  Or now, after reading about Ms. Carper’s book, perhaps their lifestyle was Alzheimer’s preventive.

In any case, I’m going to lobby against my 13 year-old grandson playing tackle football.  He gets in enough contact trouble with his basketball activity.

Next blog I think I share with you a book that my wife recently read called, “Just Kids”.  This is not what the title suggests.

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