Aug 31, 2011

Alzheimer's Prevention versus Delaying Onset

I'll start by making this simple, there is nothing that will stop you from getting Alzheimer's disease if you are predisposed to the disease. The real issue as I see it is, are there ways you can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease or slow its progression?

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's Prevention versus Delaying Onset
Let me put it this way. Let's say it is a given that you are going to suffer from Alzheimer's disease at some point in your life, which would you prefer, to fall into a serious state of dementia when you were 70 years old, or 85 years old?

I think it is safe to say, most of us would say 85.

So the real issue here is, is it possible to delay the onset of dementia?

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Yesterday, I published an article here, Herbivores Don't Get Alzheimer's, Tanzi on Lifestyle, Music, and Alzheimer's. In the video, Dr Rudolph Tanzi was talking about lions, tigers, bears, and donkeys actually. He said, herbivores don't get Alzheimer's. He then went on to say, "I am a vegetarian and I am hoping for the best". He smiled when he said it. Hoping.

Rudy Tanzi is not some guy trying to sell something like coconut oil as a cure for Alzheimer's. He is a world renowned scientist with a first class genetics lab. He has been studying Alzheimer's for a long time.

He says exercise and diet might prevent the onset of Alzheimer's. Prevent in this case means delay, or even delay it long enough that you will die before Alzheimer's presents. I also heard him say many times, if you live long enough, get old enough, you will likely suffer from Alzheimer's. Likely means likely. Not definitely.

So the real issue here is, can you delay the onset of Alzheimer's? It appears that the single best way to do this is to exercise. There are more than 20 studies indicating that older people who exercise do better cognitively than older people that don't.

My single favorite study was a comparison of mice that exercised versus mice that didn't. The mice that exercised didn't get Alzheimer's, the mice that laid around did get Alzheimer's. Can you believe they even observed the mice in the dark to see what was going on.

One of first decisions I ever made was to get Dotty into a gym and get her exercising. Dotty went into the gym for the first time in her life when she was around 87 years old. I made that decision back in 2004 based on what I was reading. I had no way of knowing what was going to happen next. The decision changed our lives.

Dotty went into the gym kicking, screaming and cursing. She swore every time that she would not exercise. Sometimes it seemed like she was crawling on the way into the gym. Dotty walked so slow that I had to learn to walk that slow. You woulda thought she was going to the gas chamber. On the way out, Dotty was cruising. Standing up straight, smiling, and walking out without me holding on to her hand. Dotty was a different person on the way out of the gym.

This changed our lives. I'll explain. With that success I decided to "discover" ever thing I could to try to improve Dotty's life.

One of my best discoveries was bright light. I say this because when I am interviewed by the media they always perk up when I mention the positive effects of bright light on Dotty. I also had more than a handful of neurologists say, I never heard that one.

Here is the best part. I wrote about bright light many times here on the Alzheimer's Reading Room. Guess what happens? I get emails from readers telling me they opened the blinds, threw back the curtains, and it made an almost immediate impact on their loved one. They see better moods, better behavior, and smiles. More interaction as a result of bright light.

Back to the real issue. Can exercise, a healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle with good communication and socialization, and bright light delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. For some of us, I believe it could.

Can the same things I mentioned above slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease and improve the quality of life for someone living with Alzheimer's? I believe they can.

I am not alone in this thinking. Ask Jay Smith, This Man Decided to Fight Alzheimer's. Ask Rudy Tanzi.

Forget the science. These are observation I made on my own. I am not the only one. I have hundreds of emails telling me these routines help and/or work. I conclude from this it can help, and it just might help you. I didn't just say, its magic. I can also say, its not voodoo.

So maybe, just maybe, if you are predisposed to Alzheimer's and you eat right, exercise, have fun, reduce stress, and get up off your butt and go into the light, maybe, just maybe, you will delay the onset of Alzheimer's.

Like I said, if you had a choice of Alzheimer's at 70 or Alzheimer's at 85, which would you choose.

This is my point, you get to choose.

By the way, you might also delay the onset of heart disease, or diabetes by doing the same things.

Wax on, wax off.

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Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,910 articles with more than 652,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room