May 5, 2011

Using the Serenity Prayer To Deal with Dementia

You may be familiar with the Serenity Prayer, which I've found to be a great help over the years:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
It occurred to me that this prayer is a useful way for me to look at my fears of dementia.

Here are risk factors that can contribute to dementia that  I cannot change and that I need "the serenity to accept":
  • Age 70 or older
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Low education level 
  • Parkinson's
  • Family history of dementia, particularly if a family member developed Alzheimer's before age 70.
 Here are risk factors that I can control ( "have the courage to change")

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
Here are life style factors that can forestall or delay the onset of dementia (and where I need "the courage to change the things I can") :
  • Exercise. Regular exercise is a vital part of preventing dementia and many other diseases.
  • Remain socially connected
  • Keep mentally engaged and challenged
  • Get treatment for depression
  • Reduce alcohol consumption to one glass of wine per day, preferably red wine.
  • Eat a brain-healthy diet such as the Mediterranean Diet
  • Minimize stress
  • Get regular and restful sleep
In subsequent postings, I'll elaborate on each of these suggestions for life style changes that can help ward off dementia.  The first posting will be on exercise since that tops virtually every list of things we can do to fight dementia.

Let me know what worries you and/or what you are doing to beat this demon!


Jonathan said...

Hope you'll talk about diet, John. You eatin' berries and whole grains? :)

John Schappi said...

Yep. Diet is on my list for dementia-deterrent topics. I'm going to take up exercise first, since that's generally viewed as the most important life-style change.