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Going Outta My Head

Alzheimer’s/Dementia:  ” The Forgetful Disease”

by Colette Belfor

“Well, I think I’m going out of my head. Yes, I think I’m going out of my head.

Taken from the 1964 song “Going Out of My Head” by Little Anthony and the Imperials, it happens to be an appropriate phrase for a topic that’s not about loving someone madly, but, about the most common cause of age-related disease – Alzheimer’s, yes, “the forgetful disease.”

As a young girl growing up in the rural area of Mississippi in the early 1970’s, I remember an older female relative who would walk up and down the dirt roads talking to herself.  When asked, ‘What’s wrong with her?’ they would say, “She’s senile; she doesn’t mean any harm.”  I remember seeing her at least twice a week walking past my grandmother’s house. When I think about her today, I wonder if she was suffering from dementia.

In this decade alone, seven of my elder friends and family members have experienced this debilitating disease; three of which have passed away. Watching them live with this disease and caring for them throughout, was painful, exhausting and stressful, to say the least. But, it taught me patience. It taught me to enjoy life and be thankful for every thoughtful, living moment. And, it gave me foresight and an awareness that prompted me to write and share this with all of you. Hence, the reference to the song,

Well think I’m going out of my head.

Day and night.

Night and Day.

Wrong or Right.”

Alzheimer’s was discovered in 1906 by German physician Alois Alzheimer.  Fast forward one hundred and twelve (112) years later and the medical industry is still searching and testing for a deeper understanding of and cure for this disease.  Some statistics are:

  • 95% of Alzheimer’s cases are found in people 65 years and older,  [1]
  • 7 million Americans today have Alzheimer’s and medical professionals expect this number to triple by the year 2050[2] and
  • Two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women[3]

There are several theories, but no cure or conclusive treatment. And, unfortunately, it is not preventable.  But, medical progress has been made in getting a better understanding of the disease.

When I think about what causes Alzheimer’s, based on my research, I am led to believe that the advancements in life (e.g., the cell phone and microwave, fast food, playing electronic video games, etc.) are a contributing factor in our health, or lack thereof, including the onset/increase in Alzheimer’s/dementia.  When I was in elementary school, we had recess, including Swimming and Gym, which were mandatory to graduate from high school.  Sadly today, these classes and activities no longer exist.

Let’s explore the technological marvel that is …. the microwave. We want everything quick. Now! Now! Now!  ‘I’m hungry now!’  The microwave oven became a staple in households in the 1970’s and is very much a staple in homes today. What do we do? Well, we place our food in a microwave oven to either cook or reheat; and, in so doing, it zaps (depletes) the nutrients from the food, so much so, that we wind up eating food with no nutritional value, devoid of essential vitamins and nutrients that support healthy bodily functions.  So, if our brain, for example, does not receive essential nutrients or adequate circulation of blood for it to function properly, it becomes clogged and our brain cells start to die.  Thus, creating an environment ripe for Alzheimer’s to develop and thrive, in my opinion.

Referring to the Time’s Inc. Special Edition article, “The Science of Alzheimer’s,” medical researchers have found that Alzheimer’s develops from a collection of abnormal proteins building up in the brain. There are two proteins: one accumulates and forms plaque on the outside of the brain nerve cells, and the other bunches or clumps up on the inside of the brain nerve cells and stays there.  The brain, in its own “self-contained universe” [4] becomes stuffed with no release, no escape, creating neurotransmission problems to the point where the cells die off, creating memory loss, confusions and the impairment of day-to-day life to occur.  When symptoms of forgetfulness appear, it’s too late because, at this stage, it is  irreversible.

The Time’s Inc. article mentions hope.  New medicines are being tested and recommendations are made regarding lifestyle adjustments, at an earlier age, as opposed to making necessary changes at a later stage in life.  While we are in our 40’s and 50’s, perhaps even younger, we need to modify our lifestyle by eating healthier foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, getting more sleep and implementing and maintaining a sustainable and rewarding exercise routine. By doing this, we will help improve circulation to our brain that will mitigate potential clogging and clumping of our brain/nerve cells. Common activities that physicians tell us at every visit are what I refer to as SEE Sleep, Eat healthier, and Exercise.  Did you know that exercising boosts cardiovascular health and increases blood flow, thereby stimulating the release of proteins that directly benefit the brain?  Sleep allows our bodies to repair itself.  If we are not getting adequate sleep, our bodies are constantly in ‘fight’ mode. A holistic doctor once told me that the body is designed to heal itself, if we take proper care of it. But, many of us have unwittingly abused our bodies by not getting proper rest, eating healthy or exercising.  According to medical researchers, a lifestyle adjustment is needed now to potentially and hopefully help the brain resist the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

So SEE SLEEP, EAT healthier, and  EXERCISE are key components to remaining mentally sharp; to keep the mind active and alert.

“There is a time for everything. For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.”

What will you do to keep from losing your mind?

Colette Belfor

@2018 by cBelfor Solutions

For your listening pleasure, click to hear the love song, Going Out of My Head.

 

[1] Page 14, “The Science of Alzheimer’s” by Time Inc Books, Special Edition, 2018

[2] Page 86,  “The Science of Alzheimer’s”  by Time Inc Books, Special Edition, 2018

[3] https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures

[4] Page 4, “The Science of Alzheimer’s”  by Time Inc Books, Special Edition, 2018