Article written by

G. Allen Power, MD is Eden Mentor at St. John’s Home in Rochester, NY, and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester. He is a board certified internist and geriatrician, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians / American Society for Internal Medicine. You can follow his blog at www.Changingaging.org/AlPower/

24 Responses

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  1. Angie Studnicka
    Angie Studnicka at | | Reply

    I believe that if elders were truly integrated into family life and our society’s daily activities, we would not fear to the point of panic at the thought of becoming disabled and dependent while aging. Likewise, if LTC facilities where places that truly created a home-like environment and relationships for us, we would not fear the thought of living in one. It would just be a new place – not a dreaded place.

  2. Brian Steeves
    Brian Steeves at | | Reply

    Al – as always your common sense shines through. Great post. Brian Steeves

  3. Phil Willis
    Phil Willis at | | Reply

    Such a great positive post on the paranoia surrounding brain ageing.

    Thanks for the great advice – and the healthy sense of humour.

  4. Mark Miller
    Mark Miller at | | Reply

    One of my heroes in the “aging with purpose” movement is Dr. Bill Thomas, the founding father of the Eden Alternative and other programs that restored meaning to the lives of many institutionalized elders in nursing homes. This article is a somewhat lighthearted look at the rush to find “the answers” to how we can grow old Alzheimer’s-free. When I was a nursing home administrator in North Carolina, I had the gift of meeting Dr.Thomas and incorporating many of the ideas from his first book in our facility’s operation. There’s a special place in Heaven for men like Dr. Thomas.

  5. rosemary weston
    rosemary weston at | | Reply

    we certainly do get a lot of mixed messages. the “experts” disagree and then change their minds, so who are we to believe? i can try to do my own research from what is being said and decide what makes the most sense to me from those who seem to be reasonable. then i use moderation and indulge myself within that moderation with the things that make me happy and help me enjoy life. i’m sure the anxiety all this causes will have a negative effect on our health or at least the quality of our life. i would like to leave this life at a ripe old age in fairly good physical and mental health and exit quietly and peacefully…time will tell…

  6. Al Power
    Al Power at | | Reply

    Yep, it’s all about what has solid evidence as an intervention that will have a real impact on our lives. At this point, the best evidence is for good heart health, exercise, blood pressure and sugar control, not smoking and social engagement. But even then, we don’t truly know how much these will lower a given person’s risk, given the diversity of our population and our individual risks. Everything else is just hype at this point.

  7. Martha Stettinius (@InsideDementia)
    Martha Stettinius (@InsideDementia) at | | Reply

    I see your point, Al, and there is certainly a lot of conflicting information out there, but as the daughter of a woman who developed cognitive impairment in her mid-60s, not in her 80s, I do want to know what puts me, at 48, at higher risk of dementia. I have two things in particular that put me at higher risk that are not well known: sleep apnea and high blood sugar (pre-diabetes). I’m actively treating both of these things (a CPAP machine, and changes to my diet). I don’t feel panicked. Rather, I feel grateful that I am aware of risk factors that my mother was not aware of. (She also likely had sleep apnea and high blood sugar.) I wish this information had been available to my mother in her forties and fifties. For the appendices of my book “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir,” I read a lot of research and the alarming media reports you mention. I agree with you that it’s confusing to hear about this study and that study without dementia researchers agreeing on the causes or “biomarkers” of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Researchers can’t even agree if amyloid beta protein (molecules or plaques) can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease or not (and thus the disagreement over whether the new PET scans for amyloid beta should be covered by Medicare. As you know, 1/3 of people with amyloid plaques will not develop Alzheimer’s disease symptoms). What we need is more funding for dementia research to find the actual “biomarker” and cause of the most common forms of dementia, so we’re not left with guess work. In the meantime, we need to concentrate on the quality of life for people with dementia, and their care partners. And I will cook with coconut oil instead of canola.

  8. Kathy Broggy
    Kathy Broggy at | | Reply

    Wow! You really are my hero, Al Power! I am going out for a hamburger! Forget the coconut oil, I want french fries! I consider successful aging to be waking up every morning to age one more day!

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