"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

Hello Friends!

Friends, Romans, countrymen...y'all. Foodies, gardeners, artists and collectors - let's gather together to share and possibly learn a thing or two in the mix.

Donna Baker

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Aging Ain't For Sissies


"Go start the car, honey." 

As we age, we begin to forget things.  My proudest attribute, was my near photographic memory.  Notice, I said, was.  I am beginning to forget things. Drives me nuts; simple words, minutia, things I used to pride myself in knowing. If you remember, fun for me growing up was reading encyclopedias and medical books. I worry that I am in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's Disease.  So, I decided to turn to an expert.  He is a neuropsychologist; specializes in traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's, stroke, blah, blah, blah.  

Dr. T. Ph.D., ABN,FACPN, I'd like to ask you a few questions.

Q - In terms we can understand, what is Alzheimer's Disease?
A - A disease of the brain that results in accumulating or progressive death of brain cells.
Q - What is the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia?
A - There are many diseases of the brain that result in progressive cell death - all of those are classified as a form of dementia.  Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia.
Q - Are they treated the same way?
A - Other than a few reversible causes of dementia (i.e. meds, depression, thyroid, etc.), there are no effective treatments that reverse the dementing process.Some significant progress has been made in the treatment of Alzheimer's, but Alzheimer's remains a progressive, virtually untreatable form of dementia. 
Q - Well that makes me feel a whole lot better.  What percentage of the population will get Alzheimer's?
A - On average, there is a 15 - 20% chance of elderly developing Alzheimer's in their lifetime.  This risk of Alzheimer's increases with age and certain genetic biomarkers, for example, there is almost a 50% chance of Alzheimer's in patients over age 80. "Christ, let me go look it up on my Power Point presentation." 
Q - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz  He can't find his memory stick. Hah.  It's all right dear. I'll put you in a good home.  That is what he always tells me. Personally, I don't care if I get dementia at 80 (though I'm sure I will if I make it that far).  I do care if I get it now.  What is the earliest documented case of Alzheimer's?
A - Cases in patients as young as 20 that are undocumented with no confirmation by autopsy.
Q - What are the earliest signs to look for?
A - In Alzheimer's, it's memory loss.
Q - What kind?  Like punctuation, words, names? Oh, God.
A - Here is an example.  Alzheimer's patients forget whole experiences instead of not being able to recall specific details.
Q - Do you think I am showing signs of Alzheimer's?
A - You show normal age related forgetfulness which is different from Alzheimer's. (I didn't tell him I momentarily forgot how to recharge my camera battery the other day). If you forget parts of certain experiences or conversations and you know you forgot - you are probably okay.  If you don't remember and don't acknowledge you've forgotten, that is probably a concern.

Well, that's all I want to know. It's all a bloody crap shoot.  If you have a question, I'd be glad to ask Dr. T for you.  Meanwhile, it's been nice knowin' ya.

18 comments:

  1. I jave been reading up on it..so disconcerting..
    My friend's mom died with it.. My parents didn't live long enough..I think..
    But I do know even younger people get it..
    It is terribly hard on those who love them.
    I agree aging is not for sissies..You can live a good life..take care..exercise..and all of a sudden..something is going wrong.

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  2. I turned 40 and was in the hospital 2 weeks later! Now I'm 45 and take better care of myself but … thinking about Alzheimer's … I want to keep my brain active! Isn't that supposed to help, if you know more than one language? Back to Italian, I guess. There was a study about that, a couple of years ago.

    My parents are in their 70s and every time they forget something, I get stressed out … Oh, please let it not be that. You're right, it's not for sissies. I'm happy to have made it to 45, not with a perfect memory, but a lot of wonderful memories, that I can still remember!

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    1. Oh Lucinda, I knew you were a baby. My oldest daughter's age. I just bought Rosetta Stone in French and am taking 2000iu's of Vitamin E. I'll try anything. Did anyone ever tell you that you look like a fair haired Julia Louise Dreyfus?

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  3. Have had 2 great Aunts (by marriage) that had it and have since passed . Like any debilitating disease is very sad to see them slip away in that manner , and very scary to contemplate having it.
    Very interesting to read all this Donna. I've ridden horses all my life and had several ( actually 3) concussions over the years ( don't bounce as well as I use to, also apparently not quite as well balanced , I use to be able to stick to any horse I got on come what may). Now you hear a lot more about concussions causing problems later in life .Knock on wood, the past year my brain cells still seem like there are enough to go around keeping me pretty coherent , thank goodness ... but I a staying off the "wilder" horses , those days have passed me by .

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    1. Yes, Willow, concussions have a cumulative effect. Try not to have any more. I was at the barn in the dark locking up the other night and tripped over the hose and landed on my nose. It is scabbed and broken and I am bruised and scraped. Just in an instant it happened. I too used to be unafraid and even rode my horse without a bridle and bareback. I'm afraid now that I couldn't even pull myself up onto the saddle.

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  4. My husband's family has lost family members from this disease, the worst part is knowing they are slipping away and can no longer recognize close family members.
    I've noticed memory loss where I can remember events from decades ago, but struggle with short-term memory, frustrating to say the least.
    Sorry to read of your little accident, hope all heals well !
    Hugs,
    ~Jo

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  5. That was interesting and a bit scary!

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  6. Oh My! Scary! I sometime forget ,too. I did remember my oldest baby turned 51 today!!! Dottie

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  7. I know it is scary, and though I make light of it, what can we do... I guess my main concern is burdening my family, my children. Alzheimer's can last 10-20 years and with health care in the state it's in, I think they are probably going to end up putting the elderly to sleep one day.

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  8. You are so funny, Donna! And that was my grandmother's favorite phrase: Getting old ain't for sissies! So Dr. Oz just had a show on this and his doctor guest said carbs are the culprit. He said less bad carbs and more healthy fat (including butter!!!) and even Alzheimer's patients are showing improvement! The great thing about the brain is its neuroplasticity. Try some of the free games at Lumosity.com. I have a lot of trouble with word recall (simple words and I'm only 50) and doing those games every day even for a short while makes a big difference! Learning anything new (like your French Rosetta Stone) and working out the brain makes it strengthen and grow like a muscle. I love that on Lumosity you can determine which part of the brain needs work and pick a game that strengthens that specific area. Also Dr. Daniel Amen has lots of great info on the brain. He's often on PBS specials, has books out and it looks like he even has a segment on TedTalks. I think there is much hope!

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    1. Kirsten, I remember worrying about menopause in my 40's. Now, I have to worry about health issues and dementia. I love what Steve Martin said once, "I'm as happy as can be, knowing that I am going to die one day." I have heard even little things or changes, like driving a different route to somewhere or eating with your left hand if you're right handed; little things like that supposedly kick start synapses up there. Hopefully, we'll live fully to a ripe old age. Me, I want to go out with a bang!

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  9. A dear, vibrant, vivacious friend of mine was diagnosed last year. I went to see her as soon as I was able and was very sad to see her struggle to try and remember things. Once a world class French Chef, she can no longer cook anything at all as the range is a danger to her. She is on some medications now which have kept her in about the same place for a year now. I spoke with her husband a few days ago and if I can get away, will go and stay with them in Hawaii in the spring. Everyday, I have concerns about my own memory loss. We all have to carry on as if each day is more precious than the last.

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    1. Well said, Ry. It is so very sad. Your friend sounds like she has Diffuse Lewy Body Syndrome to be progressing that fast. I sound like I have my Ph.D. We ought to be able to get a version of that when we help put our spouses through all those years of school, typing tests, dissertations, filling in, etc. Your last sentence is going to be my mantra this year.

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  10. LOL!!! Oh my God, we are in the same boat. I appreciate that visit with the doctor. Don't worry my dear, the other day I FORGOT I took a bath! I touched my hair and it was dry, and I thought, hey, did I take a bath?.. I was going to wash this head of hair and it's dry! So I not only forgot I took a bath, I forgot to wash my hair when I DID take a bath. GEEZ turning 60 sucks! My mom was with me recently and is 87 and showing signs of Alzheimer's, it pretty much freaked me out as it is supposedly genetic. However, she didn't have problems till her mid 80's and therefore less likely genetic for her children. I think it scares all of us, women especially. MY new years Resolution has been to change my eating lifestyle and frankly, I feel better already. YouR title "Aging Ain't for Sissies" is so apt, someone emailed me THAT VERY QUOTE today, Bette Davis originally said it.

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  11. Jeri, I thanks for sharing, I do feel better. Did you ever go to Wal Mart and forget to put on your bra? I have forgotten to wash out the cream rinse before. I once went to town with two different shoes and even this fall, I was walking around with my dress inside out! Aging does suck. I saw a tee shirt recently that said something like Don't Grow Up Kids, It's A Trick. I can't imagine how I got old so fast. Didn't know Bette Davis said that. Interesting. I said before, I believe you and I live in parallel universes.

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    1. Donna, Well, I did have my sweater on backwards last week! There is a book called "Menopause and the Mind" (Amazon has it) which describes all this mental weirdness to a tee. Whenever I feel like "I'm losing my mind", I pull out that book and it helps immensely. We MUST be in a parallel universe; after my friend gave me the Bette Davis quote, I thought to myself "That would be a great blog post!) And you did it, perfectly.

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  12. Donna, thank you for posting this funny but serious information from Dr. T. I can certainly relate. I have to go through a long check list every time I walk out the door, and it doesn't always help! My doctor told me a warning sign is being somewhere and not knowing where you are, which I have avoided so far.

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  13. Oh, my dear sweet childhood friend, Tracy... Good to hear from you. Need you to email me so we can visit. I wore my dress inside out this summer. Just so many things I am forgetting. I'm still worried about it. Loved hearing from you.

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