BABES, which stands for Beating Alzheimer’s By Embracing Science (BABES), is an organization founded by a registered nurse, Jamie Tyrone, who found out that she carries a gene that gives her a 91% chance of developing Alzheimer’s around age 65. This account is taken from an article in the July 5th Washington Post by Franklin Kunkle title “Alzheimer’s spurs the fearful to change their lives to delay it.”
Jamie decided to fight back. She exercised. She changed her diet. She began taking nutritional supplements, including fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin B12, curcumin, turmeric, and an antioxidant called CoQ10. She started meditating and working mind-bending puzzles, such as Brain HQ. She joined a health clinic whose regimen is shaped by a UCLA medical study on lifestyle changes that can reverse memory loss in people with symptoms of dementia. And she started the nonprofit group BABES, to raise money and awareness about dementia. I hope this money will also be used for assessing and documenting the effectiveness of these practices.
A Harris Poll found that worries about Alzheimer’s crosses all generations; more than 75% of millennials, Generation Xers and baby boomers worry about what will happen to their memory as they age. It would have been interesting to find out what these individuals are doing about it. Just worrying? Hoping that a drug will be found to prevent or cure Alzheimer’s? Or taking action such as advocated by BABES and the healthy memory blog.?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association more than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s, and as the population ages, the number of cases is expected to increase to 13.5 million by 2050. The risks for Alzheimer’s can also be overstated, especially for early onset forms of dementia. Unless one has a genetic predisposition, Alzheimer.s strikes the majority of people after they reach the age of 65, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. A history of high bloom pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, or cardiovascular problems increases the risk of dementia.
The article notes that aging itself is the biggest risk factor: the longer you live, the more likely you are to develop Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Although this is true, the fundamental question is why aging is a risk factor. True, there is neurological decline, but is this a factor? A significant fact not mentioned in the article is that there have been autopsies of people who exhibited no symptoms of Alzheimer’s, yet whose brains were wracked with the amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles that provide the definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
I think a more significant fact is that are activity levels, both cognitive and physical, tend to decline as we age. It is likely that these are primary factors in dementia. Programs such as BABES and activities such as those recommended in the healthymemory blog are likely preventive. They foster both mental and physical activity. The Washington Post article hopes that these activities will likely delay but not necessarily prevent Alzheimer’s. This is a guarded scientific statement. In life there are no guarantees. Yet many manage to pass away before suffering from demential. See the healthy memory blog post, “The Myth of Alzheimer’s.” This is the title of a book whose is author was a researcher who was reaping large financial rewards looking for drug treatments to fend of the amyloid plaque and neurofibril tangles. He came to the conclusion that these research efforts were futile, that although there was dementia, and he is conducting research on coping with dementia, Alzheimer’s is not a disease. It should also be realized that Alois Alzheimer, after whom the disease is named, was never convinced that it was a disease.
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