By Mike Wilcox
A few years ago my mother died from complications caused by Alzheimer’s. It was a long and arduous haul as my siblings and I watched our beloved mother decline to where she knew no one or nowhere.
I vowed to do what I could as a writer and editor to occasionally bring this horrific disease to light. On this Mother’s Day, I can think of no better tribute to my mother than advise readers to do what they can to avoid this debilitating disease.
Although there is no cure nor conclusive evidence as to who and when someone will contract the disease, there are several preventive measures that give you a fighting chance against Alzheimer’s and dementia. Here are four suggestions each of us 50 and older need to heed:
Eat well. Stay away from red meat. This is particularly difficult for me, but I vow to abstain from hereon in. Experts claim a Mediterranean diet that emphasizes coldwater fish is very effective. Stay away, they say, from excessive alcohol although red wine is good in moderate proportions.
Secondly, experts stress over and over that exercise and physical activity prevent Alzheimer’s. I implore you to get out of that easy chair and take a nightly walk, or get on the treadmill in the morning. You will feel better, be in pretty good shape and have a peace of mind that you might prevent Alzheimer’s.
A third preventative measure, believe it or not, is sleep. Experts say a good night’s sleep, eight hours or so, will go a long way to preventing Alzheimer’s. I used to get five hours if I was lucky, but the last few years I top eight most of the time and feel so much better.
Lastly, a sharp mind helps to combat Alzheimer’s and dementia better than anything. The older we get, the more we need to focus on brain-stimulating activities.
My grandma played scrabble late into her 80s. Mind you, she was good at it. She also walked the Labor Day Mackinac Bridge walk each year. She was healthy as a horse until she died.
I could say the same about my dad, who never forgot anyone or anything until his death. Having an active brain really works.
Mother’s Day became an official holiday in 1914, largely from the efforts of Anna Jarvis, who wanted to honor her deceased mother. Nowadays we honor all mothers, living and deceased, on the second Sunday of May.
I am jealous of those who still have their mothers in their lives. Alzheimer’s took mine a decade or more ago. Yes, she kept living for several years, but could not communicate. Then, towards the end, didn’t recognize her children.
I wish I had been closer to her. I wish I could have suggested we play Scrabble or take a daily walk.
This column is for you, Mom, and for all moms and dads approaching their senior years. Get started Sunday with the exercise and diet you have long avoided, and maybe you can prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia from entering your life.