Dementia and Research: A Winning Combination
Because I have vascular dementia, I find any new research about dementia and Alzheimer’s to be fascinating. Just last Wednesday, July 30, recent research findings were presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease.
One report was from Israeli researchers who found that rumination could be a good thing.
(Ruminate: to think over or meditate on; syn. think over, meditate, turn over in one’s mind, deliberate, chew over, weigh, ponder, contemplate, cogitate, reflect on, muse)
Israeli scientists studied 9,000 middle-aged men, asking them to rate their ruminations from 1(always forget) to 4(usually ruminate) when it comes to family and work issues. Thirty years later, dementia assessments were made in 1892 of the 2606 men who had survived. It was found that the men who said they ruminated the most about life’s issues showed up to 40% less dementia than those who ruminated the least. Hmmmm, maybe a happy-go-lucky, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants is NOT the best way to go, after all! Overthinking, then, appears to be good! Ruminating upon this study, I question its true validity and relevance. It seems pretty subjective. Who knows whether or not some of the men who originally said they deliberate consistently on matters concerning family and work might not have gone on to a more laid back life? What if these intense human beings also worked out and maintained a more healthy lifestyle? I’m not sure the study went far enough…
The second study I found interesting was done by researchers from Finland and Sweden. They found that being married or living with a partner was linked with a lower risk of dementia later on in life. That is encouraging, too. Unfortunately, the ratio of men to women begins to widen the older one gets. According to the Annual Demographic Supplement to the 2002 Current Population Survey, there are 95.6 males to every 100 females in the U.S. (I wonder about that .6 male…) As one ages, the male population begins to die out, resulting in only 67.2 males per 100 females between the ages of 75-84. I suppose that “living with a partner” could include situations as seen on “Golden Girls”. I’ve often thought that I want to live like those ladies when our men pass away…I envision living with my sister and sister-in-laws in a nice roomy house on the water…That kind of relationship would definitely help keep one’s mind younger and working. However, ruminating upon such is not productive. I certainly don’t want anything to happen to my husband or any of the husbands in my family. Having lost my brother two months ago, I know the pain of loss and no “plans” can ever heal that. Plus, with my health history, I will probably pass on long before my husband. So, forget the Golden Girls idea for now… The study, though, just strengthened the notion that marriage is good for you and your mind!
Thinking about scientific studies, I found that some had been done on acupuncture and dementia by Chinese scientists. Their studies, though, are not widely accepted by scientists here in the U.S. (The studies were found on the internet by me and not presented at the above mentioned Conference.) Nevertheless, I like the idea of using alternative medicine along with Western medicine, so I have begun getting acupuncture treatments. After only two, I do feel that I have a bit more energy. My husband says he doesn’t care if it’s caused by the acupuncture or if it’s all in my head—anything to make me feel better is good! He’s such a good partner. He accepts all my hairbrained ideas and says “go for it”! I’ll be reporting on my progress with acupuncture in the future.
In closing, I believe one of the reasons I am doing as well as I am mentally is because I continually exercise my mind. I do this by researching and analyzing studies. I continue to play brain games. I am planning and will teach a series of courses to seniors about strengthening one’s mind—at the same time strengthening my own. I learn new things and take courses. I meet new people through my volunteering efforts. I stay busy! This week, I am going to start brushing my teeth with my other hand (I hear that is a good exercise). I will begin exercising on a regular basis (though I hate to sweat!). I am trying to get my blood sugar levels under better control and seem to be winning that battle ever so slowly…
I am closing today with wise words from Joan Baez:
“You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live.”