What do Aaron Copland, Norman Rockwell, Jimmy Stewart, Rosa Parks, Ronald Reagan and Pat Summitt all have in common?
They all died from Alzheimer’s Disease.
You can add to that list my mother-in-law and perhaps also a person close to you who may not be so famous.
Alzheimer’s Disease – what has been called “the long goodbye” – may be the most feared disease there is. Losing our mental capacity for no apparent reason can be a terrifying prospect. Unfortunately, science is still not able to tell us its cause although ongoing research seems to be getting closer.
Since we don’t fully understand the cause, it is hard to know how to prevent it from occurring, but it is becoming clear that a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean Diet – with less red meat and more fruit and vegetables – matters, as does regular exercise and staying mentally active and emotionally engaged.
After watching my wife care for her mother, I tend to focus more on caregivers. If you know someone caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, volunteer to give her or him a time of respite. Just a few hours of time away can make a real difference.
Holding each other up when Alzheimer’s strikes can be a rewarding experience. I hope you will connect today with someone who can use a break, and don’t forget to eat your green vegetables.
This is Dr. Scott Morris for Church Health.