Hi, clients, partners, collaborators, and friends. Welcome again to my virtual support community and August blog for Cohen Caregiving Support.
I volunteer and raise funds in memory of my mother...and all women who are living with, died from, or are caring for someone with dementia.
Why do I do this, although men are also care recipients and caregivers? Because about two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women. And more than 60% of the caregivers are female. Please read that again.
Maria Shriver, whose father, Sargent, had the disease, recently appearing on NBC, said: “(Although) we still don’t know exactly why women bear the brunt of the fatal cognitive disease, some hints are pointing toward hormones, lifestyle and the unique stresses on women. They might be caring for young kids, they’re at the height of their careers and they may be caring for aging parents. All of this adds to psychological stress — and chronic stress is a proven catalyst for Alzheimer’s.”
So what can you do to promote brain health and prevention? There is increasing evidence that our age and family history are not the only determinants. Environmental effects and lifestyle and behavioral choices are also critical risk factors.
Shriver, a prominent advocate to find a cure, suggests:
“Healthy eating, exercising, and keeping the mind busy with cognitive exercise is important throughout a woman’s life. Diabetes, for example, is linked to Alzheimer’s, while people on the Mediterranean diet have superior cognitive function. Poor sleep has also been linked to Alzheimer’s onset.”
She also advised viewers to take breaks from electronics and to emphasize face-to-face connections: “Having friends has been linked to cognitive health. What’s good for the brain is connecting with another human being,” Shriver said. She also strongly recommended meditation and mindfulness: “having a mindful brain certainly doesn’t hurt. Meditation has been linked to better overall brain function.”
You may have also heard this from me before. My mom was in her early 70s when the symptoms first appeared, and no other family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. However, she lived in a toxic, polluted area, used to smoke, didn’t exercise, refused to get in a pool (hint: kids), and barely walked her dog beyond the end of the driveway. She was isolated a few miles from town and was my stepfather’s caregiver. No, those aren’t the only reasons why she developed her debilitating illness. But, she didn't get the benefits of cardiovascular activity, she ate a lot of fried, polluted food, and her stress from caregiving didn’t help either.
Does this sound familiar, either for a loved one...or yourself?
Thanks for your time and for joining my “virtual” support group. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, make suggestions, or even unsubscribe at any time. And for more information on how I help and support families with loved ones living with dementia, please visit my website: www.cohencaregivingsupport.com
Cohen Caregiving Support Consultants
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