Senior Living

• Controlled Entry Buildings • Community Rooms • Laundry Rooms • Inside Mailboxes • Elevator Within Building Call Now To Reserve Your New Apartment Home & Become A Part Of This Friendly Community & enjoy… These apartments let you enjoy the beauty and delight of senior living without the worry of yard work or home maintenance. GRANDVIEW APARTMENTS FOR SENIORS 62+ 3423 Kelly Street • Grand Island (308) 382-6163 • Rent Based On Income • Individual Heating & Air Conditioning • 24 Hour Emergency Maintenance An Independent Lifestyle With You In Mind! Small Pets Welcome The Grand Island Independent THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2019 6A senior LIVING By Chuck Lentz For The Independent “Use it or lose it,” stated Dr. Richard Andrews, an Omaha neurologist talking about a person’s memory. “And if you lose it, you’ll never get it back.” Human memory has been studied for decades by psychologists, psychiatrists and other medical doctors. Though much has been learned, many questions remain. One of the most challenging questions — one which has been answered only in part — pertains to how a person can best keep his or her memory intact. The statement by Andrews, who sees some of his patients inGrand Island, aptly summarizes what’s been learned about keeping one’s memory functioning: “Use it or lose it.” Although a person’s memories inevi- tably deteriorate as days and years pass, memory ability itself can be maintained and even improved — or at least its dete- rioration slowed down. Two things are key, according to Kelly Hranac, LPN, executive director of Grand Island’s EdgewoodMem- ory Care facility: — Staying physically active as much as possible; — Taking some time for strictly men- tal activity—“anything to keep yourmind busy and active as much as possible,” re- gardless of whether a person is staying physically active. Andrews was specific about what kinds of mental activity are helpful. “Reading, good conversations, trying to learn new things, learning a foreign lan- guage, taking a course in something (a per- son is) interested in— it helps themmen- tally in terms of their brain function,” he said. “It even makes them more interest- ing people.” Andrews also pointed out mental ac- tivities that are not of much value. “Way too many people have the idea that if they play solitaire, solve crossword puzzles or do word-finding games … the only thing those things do ismake you good at word-finding games and crossword puz- zles and solitaire.” Andrews was also specific about phys- ical activities, mentioning swimming and cycling. “All those kinds of things help the brain secrete a hormone that’s involved inmain- taining normal brain circuitry,” he said. “It’s not just swimming a lap around the pool; it’s really swimming,” he added. “Just like bicycling — it’s got to be more than just around the block.” While deteriorating memory ability may be inevitable in case of some illnesses, sometimes people can avoid losing mem- ory ability with simple lifestyle changes. Hranac mentioned a couple of those. “Sitting on the couch watching TV doesn’t help at all,” she said. “Not for any age.” “And I’mreallynervous about the young generation,” she added. “They’re constantly on their phones and on their tablets, and it’ll be interesting to see what their mem- ory impairment is like in the future. They’re not using their whole brain to stay active.” Then there’s Alzheimer’s, along with other forms of “dementia.” These are the diseases that gradually diminish a person’s memory ability, memories andmental abil- ities generally, usually in the later years of life. Do Alzheimer’s and similar afflictions affect people without regard to their level of physical ormental activity? “Not quite,” according to Andrews. Acknowledging that “Alzheimer’s is re- lentless,” he went on to say that “better ed- ucation will stave off dementia.” “Clearly people that are better educated — not necessarily smarter — are usually able to stave off the dementing process much longer than people who are not par- ticularly well-educated,” he said. “There’s a lot more resilience and a lot more brain reserve in people that are well-educated.” Is there anything else that supports keeping one’s memory ability? “Yes indeed there is—sleep,” Andrews said. Experts agree everyone needs seven- and-a-half to nine hours of sleep daily, An- drews said. That’s because research has shown how sleep gives a person’s brain time for its “housekeeping chores” such as “clearing toxins out.” Marge Terman of Grand Island has taken over in-home care of a familymem- ber with one type of dementia; she agrees with Andrews and Hranac and mentions other memory-supporting aspects. “One thing would be exercise; the ex- ercise a person gets stimulates the brain, especially in group exercise,” she said. “It not only stimulates the brain, the fellow- ship with other people helps with depres- sion, and of course it helps the body. Nu- trition has a lot to dowith that also. Trying to maintain stability and quality of life makes a difference.” ‘Use it or lose it’: Human memory deteriorates as we age Courtesy of Russ Bowling Dr. Richard Andrews, an Omaha neurologist, says although the question on how to retain memory as one ages is far from solved, he recommends the “use it or lose it” method. Early symptoms of dementia to watch for Though none of them are currently curable, the different forms of dementia are treated with different medications and procedures; diagnosis is thus important. Alzheimer’s, which accounts for over half of all cases of dementia, shows some early symptoms, which Hranac listed. One of the most common early symptoms of Alzheimer’s is memory loss — forgetting recently learned information in a way that disrupts one’s daily life. “You may hear that disruptive memory loss is a normal part of aging; it is not,” Hranac said. “Loss of recently learned memory is not a normal part of aging.” A second, similar sign, she said, is misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace one’s steps to find them. Other early signs of Alzheimer’s listed by Hranac include: ■ Confusion about one’s location; ■ Decreased or poor judgment — such as leaving the stove on after cooking or leaving water running; ■ New challenges in developing and following a plan or in working with ordinary numbers; ■ Difficulty completing familiar tasks — such as difficulty driving to a familiar location or writing checks; ■ New problems following or joining a conversation: ■ Withdrawing from work or social activities — “because they don’t recognize who they’re with or what they’re supposed to be doing”; ■ Changes in mood or personality — “that’s a big one.” By Marilynn Marchione AP Chief Medical Writer LOS ANGELES—New research gives some biological clues to why women may be more likely than men to develop Alz- heimer’s disease and how this most com- mon form of dementia varies by sex. At the Alzheimer’s Association Inter- nationalConference inLosAngelesonTues- day, scientists offered evidence that the dis- ease may spread differently in the brains of women than inmen. Other researchers showed that several newly identified genes seem related to the disease risk by sex. Two-thirds of Alzheimer’s cases in the U.S. are in women and “it’s not just be- cause we live longer,” saidMaria Carrillo, the association’s chief science officer. There’s also “a biological underpinning” for sex differences in the disease, she said. Some previous studies suggest that women at any age are more likely than men to developAlzheimer’s. Scientists also know that a gene called APOE-4 seems to raise risk more for women than for men in certain age groups. Atthesametime,womenwiththedisease initsearlystagesmaygoundiagnosedbecause theytendtodobetteronverbalteststhanmen, whichmasksAlzheimer’s damage. The newstudies addmore evidence and potential explanations for suspected vari- ations between how men and women de- velop the disease. VanderbiltUniversityresearchers found differences inhow tau, a protein that forms tangles that destroy nerve cells, spreads in the brains of women compared tomen. Us- ing scans on 301 people with normal think- ing skills and 161 others withmild impair- ment, theymappedwhere tauwasdeposited and correlated it with nerve networks — highways that brain signals follow. They found that taunetworks inwomen with mild impairment were more diffuse and spreadout than inmen, suggesting that more areas of the brain were affected. It’s long been known that women do better on tests of verbal memory — skills like recalling words and lists. University of California, SanDiego, researchers found that women did better on these skills de- spite similar signs of early to moderate Alzheimer’s than men. Using scans on more than 1,000 older adults, they found sex differences in how thebrainuses sugar, itsmainenergysource. Women metabolized sugar better, which may give themmore ability to compensate for the damage from dementia and make them less likely to be diagnosed with it by tests that involve verbal skills. “The female advantage might mask early signs of Alzheimer’s and delay diag- nosis,” said study leaderErinSundermann. “Women are able to sustain normal ver- bal performance longer,” partly because of better brain metabolism. At the University of Miami, scientists analyzed genes in 30,000 people—half with Alzheimer’s, half without it — and found four that seemrelated todisease riskby sex. “Oneconfersriskinfemalesandnotmales andthreeconferriskinmalesbutnotfemales,” said one study leader, EdenMartin. Researchers don’t knowyet exactlyhow these genes affect risk—or by howmuch. “Some of these look like they’re tied to the immune system and we know there are differences betweenmales and females” inhowthatworks, saidanother study leader, Brian Kunkle. Seven other genes seem to have differ- ent effect on risks in men versus women. The researchers have a National Institute onAging grant to do an international study on nearly 100,000 people to try to validate and extend the results. New clues on why women’s Alzheimer’s risk differs from men’s The Associated Press/Hesed Padilla-Nash, Thomas Ried/ National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health This microscope image shows the 46 human chromosomes, blue, with telomeres appearing as white pinpoints. By Marilynn Marchione AP Chief Medical Writer LOS ANGELES — A healthy lifestyle can cut your risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia even if you have genes that raise your risk for these mind-destroying diseases, a large study has found. People with high genetic risk and poor health habits were about three times more likely to develop dementia versus those with low genetic risk and good habits, researchers reported Sunday. Regardless of how much genetic risk someone had, a good diet, adequate exercise, limiting alcohol and not smoking made dementia less likely. “I consider that good news,” said John Haaga of the U.S. National Institute on Aging, one of the study’s many sponsors. “No one can guarantee you’ll escape this awful disease” but you can tip the odds in your favor with clean living, he said. Results were discussed at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles and published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association. About 50 million people have dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type. Genes and lifestyle contribute to many diseases, but researchers only recently have had the tools and information to do large studies to see how much each factor matters. One such study a few years ago found that healthy living could help overcome genetic risk for heart disease. Now researchers have shown the same to be true for dementia. Dr. Elzbieta Kuzma and colleagues at the University of Exeter Medical School in England used the UK Biobank to study nearly 200,000 people 60 or older with no signs or symptoms of dementia at the start. Their genetic risk was classified as high, medium or low based on dozens of mutations known to affect dementia. They also were grouped by lifestyle factors. After about eight years of study, 1.8% of those with high genetic risk and poor lifestyles had developed dementia versus 0.6% of folks with low genetic risk and healthy habits. Among those with the highest genetic risk, just over 1% of those with favorable lifestyles developed dementia compared to nearly 2% of those with poor lifestyles. One limitation: Researchers only had information on mutations affecting people of European ancestry, so it’s not known whether the same is true for other racial or ethnic groups. The results should give encouragement to people who fear that gene mutations alone determine their destiny, said Dr. Rudy Tanzi, a genetics expert at Massachusetts General Hospital. Less than 5% of the ones tied to Alzheimer’s are “fully penetrant,” meaning that they guarantee you’ll get the disease, he said. “That means that with 95% of the mutations, your lifestyle will make a difference,” Tanzi said. “Don’t be too worried about your genetics. Spend more time being mindful of living a healthy life.” One previous study in Sweden and Finland rigorously tested the effect of a healthy lifestyle by assigning one group to follow one and included a comparison group that did not. It concluded that healthy habits could help prevent mental decline. The Alzheimer’s Association is sponsoring a similar study underway now in the United States. Healthy living also is the focus of new dementia prevention guidelines that the World Health Organization released in February. The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Healthy lifestyle may offset genetic risk