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Stay with me, please, but first read this little blurb...


The Alzheimer's Association has five recommendations to avoid dementia/ALHZ and they are: "Exercise: there's more evidence that regular exercise will prevent dementia than for any other measure we might take. Walking regularly is an excellent way of keeping active."; Eat Mediterranean food; Manage other health conditions: other conditions like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure; Avoid smoking; Challenge your brain with new things is the key, for example taking up a new hobby, learning a language or even walking an unfamiliar route.


OK, now to my question...


My aunt and mother were the first and only ones in the family to develop dementia and I can't help but notice that they NEVER got exercise during their lifetimes. If I'm out of his sight for 5 minutes he calls for me to see where I am. Both acted, in fact, as if getting exercise were a noxious, uncool thing to do. They NEVER engaged in any kind of sports or gymnastics, tennis, skiing, swimming, jogging, walking--nada, nichts, rein, niente, fahgedaboudit.


Forgive me for saying this but it is true: my mom's whole goal in life, it seemed, was to do nothing. She DID things, of course, like housework, cooking, etc but she had a powerful sense that she should really be living a life of absolute leisure. A good day for her was a morning of lying in the sun for hours and then watching TV all the rest of the day. Her hobby was bridge.


As some of you know, she now has no short term memory at all though she is otherwise rational. So, I am wondering, what was it like for the elders in your care? Did they get much exercise? Or were they like my mother and aunt???


Naturally, I am asking because, unlike my mother, I have had a very active life with, at various times, tennis, skiing, swimming, ping-pong, twenty years riding horses, and now lots of walking. I hope we can determine that this really helps!!!!


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Great goal, Jinx! That really is more motivating that "you'll be healthier." I'll repeat this one to myself when I'm debating whether to go for a walk or not! :)
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Exercise so you can walk to the bathroom and avoid the bedpan for as long as possible!
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Salisbury, I don't think anyone would disagree that physical activity is healthy! But whether it has anything to do with dementia is another matter altogether.

As I said, my physically active husband outlived his family life expectancy by a couple of decades. Which means he was the only one in the family to live long enough to develop dementia.
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Remember these were double-decker buses and the ticket takers walked around collecting tickets.
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Thank you all. did you hear about the study of the English bus drivers and ticket takers? For many years there were both drivers and tickets takers on the buses. One sat all day, the other stood and walked all day. A few years ago a study was made of their relative longevity. The tickets takers lived 10-15 years longer. No mention of dementia though...
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My mother has a mixed history. When she was younger she didn't exercise and became morbidly obese. Things changed when she was in her 50s and was diagnosed with Diabetes II. She started eating better and walking. She took off a lot of weight. She used to walk several miles a day up until she was about 70. Then she fell a couple of times and her back started going out on her (arthritis and spinal stenosis). Dementia started coming in when she was in her 70s, though I just thought it was her personality getting older.

My father was an electronics engineer. He worked a lot, but it wasn't a lot of exercise. He was diagnosed with very high blood pressure when he was in his 50s. It was downhill after that. He was able to keep functioning some, but had terrible time with his blood vessels and circulation. His dementia was just part of that.
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I usually roll my eyes at the dementia advice to live a healthy life. That's good for people, but I think you have to go deeper than that to tackle the dementia problem. Better advice may be to live closer to nature, instead of eating all the processed foods, avoid chemical contaminants as much as possible, and die at a reasonable age.
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My step daughter just bought a book for her dietician class (they could pick any nutrition- based book), to do a report on it. She mentioned a part of the book states there is a link to (Alzheimer's) dementia by eating too much gluten (wheat)!! Well, isn't that the new fad anyway, that gluten is "bad" for us?
The medical community (and I'm not bashing them...I'm a nurse) are grasping at straws to come up with an answer. Everyone wants to know "what" causes it, so now everything is suspect.
I remember mother not wanting to use aluminum based deodorant for the same reason.

My mother developed Alzheimer's dementia around 89 years old (when she showed symptoms). She never did any exercise. Her father (my grandpa) developed dementia around the same age and he literally walked miles every day. His wife (my grandma) died at 89 without dementia but never exercised. My mother's sister (my aunt) is 18 months younger than she (now 91) and has no signs of dementia, neither does my uncle at 86. Why my mom and not her siblings, who knows?
It seems like it's a matter of chance or like the "dementia demon" is playing spin the bottle with this disease and you and you and you are "it". We need more research into this awful infirmity because we really don't know much about it.
At this point, I don't think we have any answers.
We need to pour lots of money into solid reaseach so our children (and maybe us too) can be free of this brain-robbing disease.
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Ah, well, then, why are they saying that it helps????? Is it statistically valid? does anyone know?
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Salisbury, My Mom has dementia, and to this day she loves lifting weights and working out at the gym. back in the beginning of her diagnosis, they ruled out Alzheimer's and said her dementia was caused by year's of drinking wine. Her mother was an alcoholic in the sense that she got kind of nuts when she drank and it eventually killed her. My mother's father had Parkinson's, and now her older brother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. So I'm beginning to suspect a genetic component rather then the wine drinking. Either way, there is clearly no exercise link, my Mom is like the energizer bunny.
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Lassie, I like that term "sell-by-date", wish it was stamped on us somewhere to give us fair warning. You gave me a light bulb moment when you mentioned that some pills can cause weight gain.

I have put on 20 lbs over the past couple of years and wondered what the hey??? Where did this come from? I know I haven't been eating more and I am not one to nibble throughout the day. My gym rat days had been over about 6 years ago, didn't have any free time anymore :( Therefore, the combination of lack of exercise and those blood pressure pills that tired me out big time, probably are contributing to my weight gain.
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I am FIRMLY and irrevocably convinced many of our wonder drugs that keep us alive far, far beyond our sell-by date, also contribute to 1) dementia and 2) obesity. All these pills they have us swallowing have side effects, and I KNOW many many of them will make you put on weight. Blood pressure and cholesterol meds. I only suspect they will contribute to dementia, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see one of those Idiot Headlines some day confirming it. (look at the 'recent' great discovery that taking benadryl for allergies, or for a sleeping aid, and a few things like Paxil are now suspected of causing dementia. They only seem to find out years and years later.) Let's not forget quitting smoking. Blow up like a Macy's Parade balloon, yet the damage to your lungs has already been done, so now you are obese and have empysema and COPD.
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Husband was very active. I think that may have helped him live longer than this family life expectancy (from heart disease) -- and therefore he lived long enough for the dementia to show up. (Not ALZ -- LBD)

My mother had no choice but to be active raising 7 kids. She never "exercised" but in her old age she walked a lot. She has dementia. (Also not ALZ)

We absolutely Do Not Know why some people get dementia and others don't. Advice to stay active and eat well and maintain social contacts, etc. does no harm but it is pretty obvious from looking at people we know it isn't the magic bullet to prevent dementia!
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I always wonder about the suggestions that the medical community would give to keep away certain serious illnesses from your door.

For myself, I was a gym rat for many years, kept my weight normal, would go hiking a lot, didn't smoke or drink, but I still got breast cancer even with no family markers... go figure. My doctor really believed stress had a lot to do with it as it was a year after I started to have to oversee my parents care.

My parents use to walk 2 miles a day up into their late 80's and early 90's, and Dad got a heart attack while doing volunteer work at the local hospital, talk about being in the right place at the right time. My parents were average weight, didn't over eat, Dad had his small glass of red wine at dinner time. No family markings for heart issues.... again, go figure.

For my Mom, it was head trauma from several falls within weeks of each other that caused her to get accelerated dementia, even though she was 98 [since passed on] and was still pretty sharp until that fall. Dad is 94 and has some memory issues which I contribute to aging as I found I can hold a better conversation with him on the telephone then in person.

What the medical community needs to investigate are chemicals placed in our foods. Like growth hormones in livestock that make them mature faster so the farmers can get the livestock to market quicker. Anyone notice that 12 year old children now look like 18 year olds? What are those growth hormones going to do later in life?
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Mom HAS NOT moved a muscle.....
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My father was the active parent who began developing dementia at about age 80 or so. Mom has moved a muscle since 1960, has lots of health problem but no dementia. I'm not convinced lifestyle has much to do with dementia, but life would be sooooo much easier caring for our elders if they had healthier, more active lives long ago. I visit a local nursing home every week. The obesity is shocking. I can't imagine bathing and toileting a 90 year old dementia patient who weighs 250 to 300 LBs. Without all the new meds these folks would have all been dead years ago.
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My mom was very active and energetic all her life. She loved to rake leaves and walk and walk, always going. She complained, before her decline, that her friends (who hadn't passed away) didn't want to go walking at the mall or park any more because their feet hurt, their backs hurt, they got winded easily! (I'm beginning to get like her friends, always aching and paining!) I think a person who exercises a lot might have a healthier outlook on life, eat better, go to the doctors more, be less depressed. But dementia can't be held off, it strikes the couch potato and the mountain climber. Just like doing exercises while pregnant isn't going to make your labor any shorter or less painful.
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Dementia can strike anywhere. Nobody got more exercise than Lou Gehrig.
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what gets me is people like our active health concious parents get dementia but i know some who are still sharp as a tack mentally in mid 80s who had terrible diets, drank, smoked, no excersize. Seems so unfair!
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Both my parents were extreamly active. My dad first climbed Mt. St. Helen when he was 14yrs old and didn't slow down his entire life - daddy skied both downhill and cross country until he was 82 - he also hiked in the Columbia River Gorge and rode his bicycle (20 mile trips) until the same age. Daddy also did weekly volunteer work for the Forest Service at both Multnomah Falls and Crown Point - two busy historical landmarks in the Gorge. Daddy passed 45 minutes before his 85th birthday from CHF. Up until two weeks prior to his death he showed only one sign of dementia - he lost his ability to do even simple math - which was ironic because he had been a math teacher. Mom was not quite as active as dad but she also skied and rode her bike into her 70's. Mom was also active by way of classes - painting classes, stained glass etc. mom also became a "Grand Master" bridge player in her early 80's - which I am told is quite an accomplishment. Looking back at it I now realize mom was beggining to show signs of dementia at about 82 but it was pretty mild until about 86 or 87 and now at 89 her dementia seems to fluctuate between moderate to sevear. Neither parent smoked and drank very little alcohol - a glass of wine or a single beer a few times a year. They also had a large circle of friends - most from their college years - that they saw frequently. So yes - while extreamly active my mom still got dementia but it was defiantly later in her old age.
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I think Alzheimer's is cruel and unusual -- and strikes whomever it's going to strike. The #1 risk factor seems to be living past 60.
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Unfortunately my Dad did get regular excersize and was very active just like you..he even still walks up to 1 mile a day at 84 and managed to developed dementia. he had a very healthy diet as well...im sure excersize has to help tho and maybe at least in hos case is slowing progression down some.
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