[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…)

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.
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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.’”

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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.”

Keep Reading…

Would You Want To Know If You Had Alzheimer’s?

That’s a hard question. On one hand, yes, so that I could prepare my family and make sure that they understand about this dreadful illness. But on the other hand No, because it would make me miserable and the thought of my mind becoming nonfunctioning would scare and depress me every second of every minute of every day.” Pamela Martin

serious discussion (more…)

The Important Truths About Alzheimer’s Disease

This is sponsored content written by FabOverFifty in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association. All opinions are of FabOverFifty.

Over 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050 that number is projected to reach as many as 16 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. More than two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.

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June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, and we want to bring you some important truths about this progressive and fatal brain disease.

geri“It’s time to break the taboo and talk about Alzheimer’s,” says Geri Brin, founder of FabOverFifty.com. “When I interviewed Dr. Keith Black, head of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, I learned a great deal about this horrific disease, including the new tests and treatments that are becoming available to us. As our generation ages, it’s important for us to understand all our options for coping with Alzheimer’s.”
spacerThe sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented or cured. This fatal disease progresses by attacking and killing nerve cells and tissue in our brain, affecting one’s ability to remember, think and plan. (more…)

Developing Epilepsy Later in Life

This post is sponsored by Cyberonics, Inc.

Pamela, 62, spent a frightening decade with migraines, dangerously high blood pressure, forgetfulness, and tingling throughout her body.

During this time, her symptoms progressively worsened and included transient ischemic attacks (ministrokes) and weakness throughout her legs. Despite numerous lab tests, doctors in Atlanta couldn’t get to the root of Pamela’s problems and speculated that she had everything from multiple sclerosis to Lou Gehrig’s disease and Treacher Collins syndrome. They also prescribed medication after medication that proved ineffective. It wasn’t until Pamela took a sleep EEG, an exam that monitored electrical activity in the brain while she was asleep, that a neurologist was able to correctly diagnose her with epilepsy. Imaging of Pamela’s brain activity showed that, at times, she was experiencing as many as 80 seizures in a two-hour timeframe.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder causing “sudden surges of electrical activity in the brain,” or seizures, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. Symptoms of seizures include loss of awareness (blacking out), confusion, loss of consciousness, tingling throughout the body, visual impairment, and many other bodily changes.

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Are Your Little Memory Lapses Really As Innocuous As Your Doctor Claims They Are?

Let’s say you’re 55 and learned today that you’d definitely live to be at least 85.

That would be pretty good news, right? But what if you learned, at the same time, that you’d positively be in the 47 percent of the population over 85 that gets Alzheimer’s disease. Not such good news, you say.

Guess what? Chances are, as an American woman, you will live to be close to 85, according to life expectancy statistics from the World Health Organization. Sadly, there’s that ominous fact that in the living population, 85 and older, 50 percent have a chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Simply put, the longer we live, the greater our chance of getting this horrific disease that causes our brains to waste away. Since there’s no cure yet, this is a frightening fact, even if the grim prospect of affliction is decades away for you.

Happily, a breakthrough, non-invasive eye test may soon tell us, years before symptoms actually show up, whether we’ll likely get Alzheimer’s. Hopefully, it also will help the medical community to create a drug that can stop the progression of the disease once an early diagnosis is made.

I had the privilege recently to interview the man who led the team that invented this test, Dr. Keith L. Black, Chairman and Professor of the Department of Neurosurgery, Director of Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Director of Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. I urge you to read every word. Besides giving you a straightforward, no-nonsense understanding of Alzheimer’s, the doctor explains if there’s anything we can do to attack the disease before it irreversibly attacks us and whether our little memory lapses are as innocent as our friends, relatives, and doctors say they are.

The interview unsettled me, but it gave me essential knowledge about a disease that has taken many of our loved ones for generations, is now taking many of our parents and is painfully close to taking many of us. It’s knowledge I think we all need to know. I hope you agree.

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