Preserve memory, prevent Alzheimer'sBecause we as a nation are aging as the baby boomers are now hitting the 50 to 60 year old age group, dysfunctioning minds and loss of memory is on the rise and so are the costs.  I’m in that group and I can say without a doubt that my contemporaries are generally not doing that great of a job in the aging department.  I think more frightening than a heart attack or stroke is the loss of our memories.

The ironic thing is that the very things that keeps our heart and circulatory system healthy are the very things that keep our brains healthy.  And interestingly, once the brain goes, it’s terminal.  That’s why I view brain health as the number one place to start.  I truly believe more people will heed the message that we’ll lose our minds if we don’t.  Haven’t you ever had what’s called a “senior moment”?  It seems like a foregone conclusion that as we get up in age, that we’ll get forgetful and start repeating our stories over and over because we forgot we told them.  Even worse, we’ll start forgetting those around us.

The problem is that forgetting is going to get very very expensive.  Here are some numbers from a Nebraska newspaper, and this is just a small state.  Multiply that by the number of people in the US and the numbers are staggering:

Dementias as Cost Driver for  Nebraska and the Nation

• The new report reveals there are 15.2 million friends and family members providing care for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, including 77,632 caregivers in Nebraska. In 2011, these caregivers provided $210 billion dollars’ worth of unpaid care nationally, and 1,101,451,591 in Nebraska.

• Caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the United States an estimated $200 billion in 2012, including $140 billion paid by Medicare and Medicaid….More at Every 68 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s

 

The bright spot in the future is that new brain scanning technologies are coming on board and are showing us exactly how well our brains are functioning.  The results of these scans are also correlated with lifestyle, environmental factors, and family backgrounds.  It turns out that we have a LOT more control of the fate of our brain than was thought possible and that we can do our part to prevent dementia or worse Alzheimer’s, which is irreversible.

So, even if now dysfunctioning minds or loss of memory is on the rise, this can be reversed with further education and implementation of lifestyle plans.  More and more, exercise books for doing puzzles, learning new things, adult classes to stimulate the mind are getting more popular.  Let’s hope for us in the baby boomer era, it isn’t too little too late.