What You Should Know About Dementia and Alzheimer’s, But Were Afraid To Ask!

I met Dr. Michael Serby about 35 years ago, when our toddler boys played together at the local playground. He did research in Alzheimer’s and had a practice in geriatric psychiatry, but those subjects were not uppermost in my mind at the time. Now they are, so I decided to ask Dr. Serby if he’d be willing to do an interview with me about his life’s work. I’m delighted he accepted my invitation, because so many of us have seen Alzheimer’s wreak a horrific toll on family and friends, and are frightened it will hit us, too.

FabOverFifty: What happens to our minds as we age?

Dr. Serby: Some people have long-standing psychiatric problems that started when they were young, or younger, and have become more of a problem. Maybe the frequency of their problems increases. Maybe they don’t have the family they once had to help them.

“Many people have diminishing cognitive function as they get older, that may begin as early as their 50s, but I know one woman who is 106 and is as sharp as can be; not a sign of diminishing cognitive function. So it’s not age, per se, that’s responsible for the development of cognitive change. It’s just more common as you get older.”

How do you define many and what happens what exactly is diminishing cognitive function?

“The majority of people over 50, certainly over 60, will experience some change in their cognitive functioning. They can’t find the right word, for example. They’ll say ‘it’s on the tip of my tongue,’ this kind of thing. That’s considered normal.

Your bones may change with age. Your joints may change with age. Your skin may change with age. Everything changes with age, but if there’s nothing pathological in those areas I mentioned, that’s great. Your memory for words also may show some change, but it’s not significant if it doesn’t affect your daily life, your functioning. You can continue to work as a lawyer or a writer. But some people panic as soon as they can’t think of a word. They’re looking for that first clue that they’re going to get Alzheimer’s. People are being evaluated in dementia centers all the time who are considered ‘normal.’”


How do you know when your ‘diminishing cognitive function’ is out of a range considered ‘normal’?

“You might have trouble planning, with language, with spatial skills.* It’s pretty noticeable, and gets in the way of your daily ability to function, but it hasn’t gotten to the point of dementia When this happens we call it Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).”

* Visual-spatial skills are critical for success in solving many tasks in everyday life, such as using a map to guide you through an unfamiliar city (pre-GPS); merging into high-speed traffic, and orienting yourself in your environment, as when you’re learning your way around a new office. Some tasks that require visual-spatial ability include packing for a trip (deciding if a certain box is large enough for the objects you want to put into it) and using mirror images (as when you comb your hair while looking into a mirror).

If you’re diagnosed with MCI, will you automatically get Alzheimer’s?

“About half of patients with MCI will go on to dementia, but many seem to hang there and continue (with MCI), maybe forever.”

Let’s say you and your husband have driven the same route to the mall, hundreds of times over the last 35 years, but one day he forgets which way to turn when you’re at the exit. Is this cause to worry?

“You shouldn’t hang your hat on one episode like that, because there are many possibilities that have nothing to do with dementia. Perhaps the husband didn’t sleep well the night before, and he had an isolated memory lapse; maybe a TIA is beginning, which is common in older people. (Note: A transient ischemic attack is a brief interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain that can result in confusion, temporary memory loss, sudden fatigue, difficulty speaking, vision changes, and poor balance. High blood pressure is a major cause of TIAs, but they also can be caused by issues including diabetes and high cholesterol, according to popular website healthline.com)
couple“If this happens, and the person gets more confused that day, it would suggest that he be seen by a doctor. They might need to get cardiac and neurological exams.

“Alzheimer’s is very slow, but a wife who experiences an incident like you described might say to me: ‘I can tell you exactly when the Alzheimer’s started.’ That’s not true. It’s just when she noticed something because it was so clear cut. You can associate a stroke with a specific event, but not Alzheimer’s. Don’t make any assumptions without an evaluation.”

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8 Important Medical Tests For FOF Women

Most of us have self-consciously slipped our bare feet into the metal contraptions on the gynecologist’s examining table, year in and year out, for our annual PAP smears. At last, we don’t have to go through this female ritual quite so often. Read on to find out why, and to learn what other female-specific medical tests we need to do, and how often.

FabOverFifty got the lowdown from one of our favorite doctors, Alyssa Dweck, who specializes in treating menopausal and postmenopausal women.


“This is all the rage right now in regards to changes in guidelines. The Pap smear can now be done as infrequently as every three to five years in women 30 and older who’ve had normal Pap smears for a while.  The test for Human Papillomavirus (HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer) is performed simultaneously.  Most women over 65 years old no longer need Pap smears since the risk for cervical cancer is quite low for women in this demographic. (more…)

Take Control Of Your Blood Pressure Without Medication

If you’re reading this, chances are you have high blood pressure. As a matter of fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) predicts 90 percent of boomers will develop the chronic health condition, which is reaching epidemic levels around the world.

A whopping 140 million US adults now have elevated blood pressure, reports the American Heart Association. Left uncontrolled, it can lead to stroke, heart attack, hardening of the arteries, kidney disease, and even memory impairment.

Cardiovascular disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, and is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.

If you’re one of the millions living with the potential dangers of high blood pressure, you’ll absolutely want to know about jiaogulan, which the Chinese have been calling “the herb of immortality” for centuries.  It’s completely natural and can dramatically lower your blood pressure!


[POLL] Are You Taking Proper Care Of Yourself?

A number of women we know make all their critical doctor’s appointments during the same week every year. That way, they don’t worry about forgetting any of them. “Time passes so quickly nowadays that one year I completely neglected to see the dermatologist,” a FOFriend told us.

Please take a couple of minutes to answer the health poll below, and we’ll report back on how you compare with other members of the FabOverFifty community when it comes to taking care of yourself. (more…)

[FOOD GIVEAWAY] Eat Like A Woman® Yummy Snacks From Nessta Life™!

Have you ever snacked on treats designed specifically for women?

“Today we know that genetic, hormonal, and physiological differences affect our susceptibility to disease, and how we respond to dietary plans designed to prevent, reduce or treat disease,” says Staness Jonekos, bestselling author and menopause expert. That’s why she created Eat Like A Woman®, plant-based functional snacks that are free of gluten, soy, dairy, and eggs, and give women the nutrients we need to reach optimal health.


What We Need Most As We Age (The Answer Isn’t Health)!

When Dr. Deborah Heiser was an undergraduate student majoring in psychology, in the 1990s, her grandmother became sick while residing in an assisted living facility in Florida.

“Your grandmother is depressed. I’ll make her better,’ a psychologist at the home told me,” Deborah recalled. “And, she did! That’s when I knew I wanted to do something with the elderly.”  Now, as founder and CEO of the I.M.AGE Institute, Deborah is “redefining what being older looks and feels like,” showing us how to age well so we can lead “happy, fulfilled, meaningful lives.”

During a conversation with FabOverFifty, Deborah shed light on depression and aging–a subject too often swept under the rug–as well as on how to be “emotionally proactive” as we move from birthday to birthday.

FABOVERFIFTY: Please tell us a little about the field of ‘aging.’

DEBORAH: When I went to graduate school, about 20 years ago, there was one place in Alabama that had an aging program. The stigma around aging was quite profound. If an older person went to the ER, for example, the care probably wasn’t going to be as good. People didn’t think much about older people then. It’s changed, but still it isn’t where I’d like it to be. (more…)

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An Easy Way To Protect Your Eye Health As You Age

If you’re over 40 years old, you’ve probably started to realize that your vision just isn’t as sharp as it used to be, even if you’re wearing prescription glasses.

That’s why FabOverFifty has partnered with ZeaVision, the makers of EyePromise Vizual EDGE, to bring you valuable information on how to support your long-term eye health and feel more comfortable driving at night.


Illustration by Simone Brin

Why your vision deteriorates after 40

Changes to our eyes occur gradually, over decades, until we suddenly recognize changes in our vision. As we age, our pupils shrink and dilate less in the dark, which reduces the amount of light entering our eyes. This can even make it seem as if we’re wearing dark sunglasses at night.

We’re also at greater risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the deterioration (or thinning) of the macula, a critical part of your eye responsible for your central vision. In some cases of AMD, blood vessels can form under the retina and leak blood and fluid into the eye. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over 55.

Zeaxanthin and lutein are powerful nutrients which can help protect our eyes against further deterioration and support the natural functions of your eye. The nutrients also help protect against harsh light from glare and oncoming traffic, improve clarity and decrease eye stress.

“Zeaxanthin and lutein protect the most important retinal real estate of the eye–the macula–which allows us to see detail. It is therefore critical to maintain the quality and health of this area of retinal tissue in a modern society that depends upon using computer screens and driving automobiles safely,” said Dr. Stuart Richer, doctor of optometry.


While leafy greens, certain fish, and other foods contain trace amounts of these nutrients, the amount we need to protect and improve our eye health can be found only in a supplement like EyePromise Vizual EDGE.

Learn more and give your eyes the
nutrients it needs.


Are YOU uncomfortable driving at night?
Tell us in the comments section below.

How To Take Control Of Your Long-Term Health

This post is sponsored by Humana.

Wouldn’t it be better to prevent chronic medical conditions than spending decades treating them?

Maintaining your health is the most important gift you can give yourself, and it’s never too late to begin. Making smart lifestyle choices today, whether you’re 35 or 65, will surely contribute to your health and well being in the decades to come.

vertical-leadThat’s why FabOverFifty is honored to partner with Humana health insurance to promote its #StartWithHealthy initiative. What better time than during the crisp fall to start your program to stay in tip-top shape. When you look at statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you’ll grasp right away how many millions of Americans are affected by long-term conditions, and how critical it is that each and every one of us take steps to reduce that number in the future. Take a look at these four common conditions, and what you can do to make sure you’re supporting your health from this day forward.

“Our parents didn’t have the health knowledge we have today, or the tools to keep themselves in the best shape possible. But we do, and there is no excuse for not taking full charge of your mind and your body, so you can spend every day with joy,” said Geri Brin, founder of FabOverFifty.com. (more…)

Combat Your Cough With Honey

Sometimes during the winter, lots of us get colds and start coughing, and coughing, and coughing, until our throats become unbearably irritated.


Known as tissus in the medical community, “a cough is a sudden reflex humans and many animals have to clear the throat and breathing passage of foreign particles, microbes, irritants, fluids and mucus, a rapid expulsion of air from the lungs,” according to medicalnewstoday.com. We’ll run to a drugstore, and try to determine which of the countless syrups, lozenges, sprays and pills will help give us relief, without making us either hyperactive from the added sugar and high fructose corn syrup, or completely groggy.  

Stop pondering and make a beeline for honey, a completely natural remedy that has been used for centuries to reduce or relieve symptoms of the common cold. Human use of honey has been traced to about 8,000 years ago, when it was depicted in Stone Age paintings. Reported to have an inhibitory effect on about “60 species of bacteria, some species of fungi and viruses, honey is a by-product of flower nectar and the upper aero-digestive tract of the honey bee, which is concentrated through a dehydration process inside the beehive,” according to the National Institutes of Health. Often called “nature’s cough medicine,” honey has the ability to sweetly coat dry, irritated throats and suppress coughs. (more…)

How To Stay On Top Of Your Health This Fall And Winter

Cold and flu season is approaching, and it’s better to plan ahead than to wait until you’re already sick! We’ve partnered with CVS Pharmacy to make sure you know the best ways to keep you and your family healthy in the coming months.

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