First off, I want to thank Melissa and Julie of the BBGG for a great meeting this past Tuesday. Faith’s presentation regarding climate change was fantastic. I won’t go into the whole thing here, but she did ask us each to think about these 2 things:
What small, simple change, will you make to help with your impact on the environment?
What big change are you willing to make?
On Wednesday I attended the 19th Annual Matthew & Marcia Simons Research Symposium on Alzheimer’s Disease. Matthew lost his life to Alzheimer’s in 1989 and his wife, Marcia, dedicated her time caring for him and then to the cause in general. It was through their generosity that an endowment enables the research symposium to help educate those with the disease and their families and caretakers.
The presenter this year was David A. Bennett, MD. As is stated in his bio “Dr. Bennett is internationally known for his work on the Religious Orders Study and the Rush Memory and Aging Project, the two largest, ongoing, multi-year studies of aging and Alzheimer’s Disease.” In these projects, participants are basically in controlled environments and their physical and mental state is reviewed regularly; they also must agree to donate their brains upon their death so that the state of their brain can be studied as well.
I will now attempt to summarize some of the information he imparted (without the science behind it.) Disclaimer – I’m writing this from notes that I took, so please view it as very general info that could have some flaws and things that are missing.
Dr. Bennett talked about behaviors and traits that in combination are more likely to manifest as Alzheimer’s Disease. Some of these make one more vulnerable and others more resilient, as he has determined in his studies.
Things that may make you more vulnerable – depression; psychic distress such as neuroticism, worry, tenseness, helplessness; and finally loneliness including social isolation.
Things that may make one more resilient, help protect against developing the disease – the number of years of education, 18 years in fact is remarkably more so than 15 years; cognitive activities including reading, playing games, visiting museums, and even watching TV if not to the exclusion of everything else; physical activity, the more the better; social engagements such as going to restaurants, sporting events, volunteering, spending time with family/friends; conscientiousness – being self-disciplined, scrupulous, and purposeful; social networks – relatives and friends that you see regularly; processing resources – perceptual speed, mental comparison, working memory; and finally, purpose in life.
He noted that AD may affect decision making, even before diagnosis.
Some things one can/should do – control diabetes and high blood pressure; relax; engage in the resilient behaviors listed above.
For more information on Alzheimer’s Disease and resources, in the Boston area please visit http://www.alz.org/MANH (leave off that last bit to find a chapter in your part of the world) or telephone 617-868-6718.
The final thing for today is to note the passing of a very dear friend last Thursday. Her name was Marie. We attended the same exercise class (Jazzercise), first spoke in the local Stop & Shop one night after class, and hit it off immediately. Her granddaughter and my daughters were in the same recreation department gymnastics classes for years, and eventually on the high school team together. In 2000, I started a knitting group which meets at my house once a month; Marie was one of the original members. We also attended many folk music events together (a story for another day).
Marie was a warm and caring person, always putting everyone else before herself. She is, and will continue to be, sorely missed.
Peace to all, Judi