For the last 3 years the new health topic in our family has been Alzheimer’s disease. My Dad was diagnosed in 2013: a once vitally active senior, he’s now living in long-term care, physically so much weaker, disengaged so often, and on a path that is totally disheartening. He is 86 years old.
A genetic link
Since his diagnosis my family and I have become very focused on learning more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in general. Discovering that there’s a genetic component has been particularly frightening. With no known cure for Alzheimer’s I’ve become increasingly driven to answer certain questions:
Can memory loss be prevented? Can the risk be lowered? Can the impact be reduced?
With extensive resources available on the internet, you can easily turn researching Alzheimer’s into a full-time job!
Health, technology and memory loss
Prior to my newfound interest in Alzheimer’s, I always had an inbox full of the latest in health and technology news. I’m a regular reader of the newsletter produced by the digital health venture fund, Rock Health, and they introduced me to the Neurotrack name in early 2016. I was fascinated to learn that by tracking your eye movement they could deliver a brain health risk assessment. It was amazing to understand how their simple test could make a definitive evaluation of your risk of developing memory problems in the future.
As a healthy 60-year old, I’ve not yet experienced memory-related problems. The occasional forgetfulness in life happens… but nothing that affects my professional or everyday life. However, with the genetic links related Alzheimer’s, I felt compelled to learn more, and take any action that might help me manage my risk. Neurotrack’s Imprint tool was an easy-to-use, free option, backed up by credible research. I decided to take the Imprint Check-Up.
Learning my Memory Score
Now…this is where things got really interesting. My Imprint Check-Up results indicated a potential high risk of developing memory loss symptoms in the coming three years. Yikes! That’s not comforting. Literally, my score was one point into the serious category of the Imprint scale.
What does this mean to me? Besides being unsettling, it spurred me on to research what things I can do to prevent problems in the future. The subject of prevention is contentious. All of the reading I’ve been doing reveals an odd disagreement about whether Alzheimer’s and dementia can be prevented: some say it can; others say it can’t.
I’m in the preventable camp. Many well-respected studies now show the impact of Alzheimer’s can be deferred, slowed, or reduced with lifestyle changes. All of the things that can help with brain wellness are now part of my daily lifestyle.
Sleep, stress management, healthy eating, physical activity, and brain exercises: these are now all part of my daily life, in a way they weren’t before. I’m also learning new skills like meditation, weight training, and how to play the piano… I have a mindset of trying to learn new things as often as possible. I certainly feel sharper and more focused than before and I’m reaping the rewards of a healthier lifestyle.
To anyone concerned about brain wellness or memory issues, I would urge you to make a very important decision to take control of your memory health.
The easy choice is to go into denial mode and forget about it. But this passive, fatalistic view that life unfolds with its own sense of direction is a hard one for me to embrace.
The other option is to get into the prevention camp. Start by learning about all of the fascinating things that can be done to improve brain wellness. Facing this issue head-on doesn’t have to be a negative experience. It is simply another choice to make. We all have challenges to face and dealing with this one in a positive, constructive, optimistic way brings with it many benefits.
Make that decision. Learn and take action. Take charge of your memory health.