I just finished reading an article in AARP’s newsletter about diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. As I anticipated, the meat of the article did not live up to the headline. Oh, there has been
progress in a doctor’s ability to identify if the brain has “plaques and tangles.” For years, it was hypnotized that these plaques and tangles were the cause of Alzheimer’s; however, science has yet to explain why others with plaques and tangles had no noticeable symptoms. As Dr. Peter Whitehouse points out in the Myth of Alzheimer’s, it is more than one thing and brain aging playsa role.
Of course, the drug companies hope they will eventually find the cure, or a preventative, in the form of a new drug. Big Pharma is cheered on by consumers who have come to look for magic
bullets to solve all their problems. Perhaps, if we focused as much time andmoney on non- pharmaceutical interventions and more time promoting whole body wellness, we could significantly improve the overall quality of life, and maybe improve cognitive well being for millions. For several decades, we have been replacing purpose with pills, which has resulted in an increasingly medicated older population while encouraging learned helplessness. In fact, all too often, interaction between drugs (both prescription and nonprescription) can produce
symptoms mistaken for Alzheimer’s or other problems.
As a proponent of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I learned that the ultimate human freedom is our freedom to choose. We can choose to be reactive or proactive; but it is up to us to make the choices. While we know that optimistic people outlive pessimists by over 7 years, this is seldom factored in when evaluating quality of life. We are too quick to blame others when in fact the only person controlling our feelings is us.
While it would be great if there were a pill that could prevent or delay the onset of dementia, there is an ever growing body of anecdotal evidence, much of which is supported by science, that a variety of activities and habits may delay the onset of dementia, improve processing speed and enhance one’s memory. We now know that what is good for the heart is good for the brain; but that is seldom mentioned in articles about the search for the cure.
Maybe we can’t prevent Alzheimer’s disease any more than we can prevent aging. However, like aging, there is a lot we can do to improve our quality of life and battle future memory loss just as we can battle diabetes, heart disease and lung problems with lifestyle changes. At NeoCORTA (www.neocorta.com), we have developed self-evaluation tools to help users identify and understand their risk factor and provide customized plans to improve cognitive well being, but a person must want to take charge of their future to benefit from those plans and
change their behavior accordingly.
I have come to believe that positive aging is well within everyone’s reach…Believe you can; believe you can’t and you are likely to be correct – your choice. Both attitudes can become a
self-fulfilling prophecy once you understand and respect the mind body connection…aging is just a series of many beginnings and we control the starting points for each pathway.