Today is National Memory Screening Day and November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s is a scary disease in addition to one the medical and science professions have not yet figured out. When I think about people loosing their memories, I think that they have lost who they truly are. Many diseases or disabilities handicap a person, under it all they are often the same relative, friend or co-worker you have always known. Alzheimer’s is different. When you know someone with the disease, you are reminded every day of what has been lost. Memories are at the very core of how we relate to people. It must be unimaginably difficult to care for an Alzheimer’s patient; especially if it is someone you have known and loved for years before they became ill.
I have read that there may be a hereditary aspect to the disease. That is comforting if you have a family history of relatives that live until a ripe old age and did not develop Alzheimer’s. I fall into this category, but I have also read enough about it to see that Alzheimer’s often does seem to strike out of the blue. So I think about it as I age and as people I know age. I read that 1 in 10 over 65 and almost 50% of those over 85 are afflicted. I am a person with ancestors that tend to live to a ripe old age. My maternal grandmother is one of 11 sisters, all either dying in their late 80’s to early 100’s or still alive at those ages. With few exceptions, in my biological family, everyone makes it to their very late 80’s and most well into their 90’s or more. Even though these relatives generally remain very healthy and active right up to the end, this makes me think about the challenges of very old age more than most people might.
What has interested me for a while is what environmental or dietary factors might contribute to or discourage the onset of Alzheimer’s. Many things have been written about factors such as the use of aluminum pots or the effect of certain foods. I don’t know if eating well can discourage Alzheimer’s, but who hasn’t heard of the possible benefits of the spice, curry? In the remaining 2-1/2 weeks of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, I will take a look at diet and its relationship to Alzheimer’s and try to post some articles and links for people to read and form their own opinion. In the mean time, if you have any knowledge or links to research on the subject diet and Alzheimer’s, post a comment and I will incorporate that into what I discover.
In the meantime, encourage anyone you know that is of a certain age and has concerns about their memory to discuss it with their doctor. Screening has become much better recently. An early diagnosis has typically been seen as scary and unnecessary as nothing could be done to stem the advance of the disease. But I think this is starting to change. Not only is more research being done on ways to slow the disease, much more is being done to ease the transition for patients, loved ones and caregivers.