Sunday, July 27, 2014

Good News for Boomers: Decline in Alzheimer’s Risk

The Silver Tsunami moves ahead with full force, alarms blaring and warning whistles screeching. What will be the plight of the aging Boomer generation? Will we pound the final nail into the coffin of Medicare and Medicaid as we reach the age of vulnerability for Alzheimer’s disease?

Until now, the answer to these questions has been yes—Alzheimer’s will increase at an alarming rate. What has changed? The cure for Alzheimer’s is still that elusive goal that motivates researchers and advocates to keep applying pressure. The Silver Tsunami builds momentum at the rate of 10,000 boomers turning sixty-five each day—and will continue until 2030 when all have turned that age.

I am a boomer and quite distressed at our future as the generation whose defining disease is Alzheimer’s. Nope. Not what I want for my future.

Then a glimmer of real hope for boomers comes from the Alzheimer’s Association  International Conference in Copenhagen. When comparing late 1970’s data, the Framingham Heart study showed a forty-four percent decline in new cases of Alzheimer’s, especially in people in their sixties.

Overall better cardiovascular health is contributing to this new trend. Routine blood work gives us the options to make adjustments to our health destiny. By treating high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, we control conditions that otherwise would rob us of good health. Other contributing factors to the good news for boomer’s health: a decline in smoking and an increase in education. Researchers believe that education builds up a neurocognitive “reserve” that helps compensate for brain damage.

It seems that it is harder to avoid helpful information about ways to decrease Alzheimer’s than it is to find it. This morning as I was skimming through old magazines before taking them to the recycle bin, I saw an interesting article on anti-aging that focused on brainpower. I had seen the suggestions before, but, hey, it never hurts to reinforce prior learning. I sped-read through the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (note to self: eat more fish!), eat fruits and vegetables (food, yay!), and exercise (clears throat—trying again to get back on track).

Then, in place of the normal “exercise your brain,” it was worded in a new way: Find a purpose in life. If nothing else, I have a good handle on this one! I believe that a purpose in life is where we boomers excel. And get this good news—having a purpose in life means you are two and a half times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s as your friends, relatives, and acquaintances who just drift aimlessly through life.

Other interesting facts I gleaned from these old “worthless” magazines included a weight reduction program based on the percentage of fresh fruits and vegetables you ate each week. According to an article in First, you could lose three pounds a week by making fifty-percent of your food raw fruits and vegetables. The theory is that you increase fat burning enzymes. Hmmm. Not so sure that would agree with my digestive system.

After reading the good news about boomer’s health, I was inspired to complete a thirty-minute workout based on exercises I found in an old Reader’s Digest.  After I gathered up my weights, a quilt for the floor, and a kitchen chair I was ready to start. I turned on the TV to a thirty-minute show—Joel Osteen—for a half-hour of perspiration and inspiration. I was not disappointed! As I lifted weights and huffed and puffed through floor exercises, I listened to Joel Osteen talk about the life-changing value of…purpose.

Joel Osteen, the workout, and good news from AAIC helped me face the day with optimism for my personal health future—and for that of other aging boomers.

copyright © July 2014 by L. S. Fisher  
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