Posted 10-12-20 on Columbus Day
I will strengthen them in the LORD and in his name they will live securely,” declares the LORD. Zechariah 10:12
Happy Columbus Day to all of you lucky enough, like me, to be off and able to read this early. Happy Indigenous People’s Day to all of my Native American friends and relatives! And to those who are indifferent, Happy Monday! 🙂
When Columbus sailed the ocean blue, in 1492, he did so in 3 famously-named caravels: The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. These little dinghies barely held the crews and enough provisions, but they were the Tesla (electric car) of the day. They were fast and agile and productive compared to others available at the time. These three ships, for some odd reason, made me think of dementia today. To me there are also three ships on which we sail to stave off dementia. Grab some jewels from the queen (and donate them here)…because off we go on our prevention voyage:
The 3 Ships of Dementia Prevention
La Niña– “The Girl“- When I think of La Niña, I think of things in life (our age and gender) that we are powerless to change (all politics of sexuality aside). According to the 2020 Facts and Figures report that the Alzheimer’s Association publishes yearly, there are several facets of the disease that are not changeable through our efforts. Here are some chilling numbers:
- Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
- Older African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.
- Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.
- One in 10 people age 65 and older (10%) has Alzheimer’s dementia.
- An estimated 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2020. Eighty percent are age 75 or older.
Ok…these are bad numbers. They include, however, some…perhaps many…folks who could do more to prevent the disease. What do they teach us? To me, it reminds me that if I am in one of the above statistical cohorts (women, African-American, Hispanic, over 75), I need to redouble my efforts at prevention techniques. It needs to be a wakeup call to take action. Are there some who have a generic disposition? Yes…likely. However, the majority of cases are not genetic and at least have a chance to be prevented. It is time to board the prevention ship and set sail while we can! Are you 20 and reading this and thinking that it is decades away from being on your radar, please think again. How we take care of our bodies early in life always has an effect on how well we age. The warning signs, while small, show up decades before symptoms begin. Think of them as a check-engine light on your uhhh…errr…boat. Is that a thing? Anyway…treat your body well….you just get one.
La Pinta– “The Painted One, The Look, or The Spotted One“- When I think of these possible meanings for the 2nd ship in Columbus’ fleet, I think of the physical…stuff we can see. Along with what I alluded to in the first ship, we need to take care of ourselves physically to endure the storms of dementia. Please remember this: What is good for the heart is good for the brain…and fighting dementia. Exercise at least 3 times a week…more if possible. Eat right. Lots of fish, lean chicken, etc… Eat red meat at a very moderate level. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink alcohol in excess. Fight the “Big 3”: obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. If you struggles with them…keep struggling…don’t give up. Take your meds. Work toward losing weight. Recognize and fight stress. Sleep enough…at least 3 sleep cycles a day (7-9 hours is common). Here are the Alzheimer’s Association’s 10 Ways to Love your Brain. Now love it. (Note: also…protect the brain physically from falls, head injuries, etc…these are biggies as well…)
Santa María “The Saint Mary”- I think of the spiritual and the intellectual when I think of Mary (the mother of Jesus Christ…and faith, in general. There is certainly a mind-body part to preventing this disease. There have been countless studies that show learning a musical instrument, especially later in life, fights the disease. Similarly, learning a new language may also be a preventative measure for this disease. Stress relief, better sleep patterns, and lower blood pressure, all very good for prevention, all also have a spiritual or mind-body element. Having mental health concerns? Seem medical and spiritual help…don’t let it worsen. Living life intimately involved with friends and family and avoiding isolation fits into this category and is an important factor in fighting this mess. Exercise your brain…work that pile-o-mush out! It will serve you as well as possible.
Speaking of the brain and the spirit…don’t forget the faith elements as well! Prayer and mindfulness/meditation is very good on the mind and surely will help fight stress, lower blood pressure, and assist in a peaceful night of sleep. Read the Psalms for comfort. Read Proverbs for wisdom. Consider fasting as a means to refocus the mind on your faith. Attend church and get involved…it takes a village to vanquish this foe.
Is the story of Columbus perfect? Not at all! Millions died as a result of European migration, whether through disease (against which there was no resistance) and war. But in the history of the United States since, there have also been millions and millions saved and served and helped (You’re welcome, Europe, for defeating the Nazis and limiting the spread of Communism). Sadly and similarly, there will also be millions who try and fail to prevent dementia as well. AFTER diagnosis, mom walked a lot. She fixed her diet. She played the piano and did brain games…exercised her brain and her heart…and she still got the disease. Her prevention was imperfect, but she has had it nearly 11 years now and only in the last 3 has it been out of control like a ship with no rudder. Did it fix her problem? Nope. 🙁 It did give us more time with her and helped us all have time to prepare. I wish I would have had her on the early stage meds…a fact that will haunt me forever…but we have all done our best.
Please think through these prevention ideas. More importantly, read the links I included so you can hear it from the experts…and never quit fighting to #EndALZ .
Update: Not much to say. Mom was more jovial over the weekend than she had been. I hope that is a sign that she is moving beyond the COVID-19 and that she is not giving up. I will have a video call with her Wednesday. 🙂
Diet update: I lost another 1.4 pounds this week for a total of 92.6. I am still shooting for 100 by November. It is a longshot…but the voyage of 3000 miles is accomplished one wave at a time.