Alzheimer’s & Ageing

Alzheimer’s & Ageing

There are two factors that immediately strike me about Alzheimer’s. The first is that those people who are concerned about getting Alzheimer’s, because they are having “trouble” with their memory, probably aren’t; because people who DO get Alzheimer’s aren’t worried at all, it is all those around them who are!

The second is that when I did my medical training Alzheimer’s was relatively rare and confined to those who developed a cognitive deterioration relatively early in life. Now it is a blanket term for the memory changes of ageing due to factors such as arterial deterioration, poor nutrition, other diseases such as diabetes and lack of “brain” exercise.

In an ageing population, the increase in the incidence of these sorts of cognitive problems like memory deterioration is not surprising. But to call them a “disease” is stretching the point. A comparison here is the labelling of Diabetes 2 that is due to a lousy diet and lack of exercise, or Bipolar Disorder for bad behaviour.

But is this actually a “deterioration”? Or is it that as we get older our minds are focussed elsewhere, maybe on the “spiritual horizons”, rather than on where I left my glasses? To judge our cognitive state as we age with some sort of standard more suitable to 30 year olds is probably an error.

Even in the caption there is wisdom: the wisdom of the aged. In a society that prizes youth, we too readily dismiss the wisdom of past experience that many of the aged population have as we rush into an uncertain future. Maybe it is more important that with age stories are shared, rather than the location of glasses be worried about.

But, yes, it is important to keep the organ that uses the mind – the brain – in good condition. It is important to keep “SANE”; where “S” stands for stress (avoiding excess); “A” for a healthy attitude; “N” for good nutrition, and “E” for exercise, both physical AND mental.

Now… what was I writing about??