How To Prevent Alzheimer's: The Disease of Oblivion
By Debbie Eisenstadt Mandel
A family member has contracted Alzheimer’s. You observe her disintegrating, mourning the loss of interaction. When your own mother doesn’t know your name, you explore your identity. Soon you worry about sharing the same gene pool. As the past gets erased, confusion reigns. You forget your keys and the item you wanted to buy at the supermarket. You make a simple arithmetic error. Someone greets you warmly by your first name—what’s his name and who is he anyway? By now you are not wondering if you have Alzheimer’s, you are only unsure of the stage —early or middle. And if you don’t think that you have Alzheimer’s, you still worry about getting it in your golden years.
Ways to prevent it
Instead of brooding why not put your mind/body energy into a solution? Most probably you are not manifesting early signs and will never contract the disease. Your forgetfulness means your brain disc is full; you have accumulated many files during a lifetime, deleting information to retain. However, if you believe that you are in the throes of the early stages, it doesn’t matter—only what you believe, the self-fulfilling prophecy.
What is fascinating about mankind is that he is beautifully engineered to heal. The mind is a powerful control center able to heal illness or trigger it. If you believe that you are genetically predisposed to Type II diabetes because of a parent’s illness, you will probably become obese and get it. However, if you eat properly and exercise daily—you will not become a diabetic, or at least you will postpone onset and severity.
Alzheimer’s is the ultimate disease of letting go--compelling you to release the past. You have no choice, but to live in the moment. Letting go of betrayals, unresolved conflicts, is difficult. Carl Jung said, “The most frightening person to confront is the self.” To prevent Alzheimer’s spiritually, because disease takes root in the spirit before manifesting in the body, you need to release the past now…
Stress and its effects on the body
The daily stressors, more than any singular catastrophe, erode mind and body. Stress hormones damage internal bodily processes. Therefore it is paramount to release painful scenarios by objectifying and distancing them. Re-interpret situations with compassion and forgiveness to be self-ish. Imagine rubbing olive oil on your body, letting the worries, the anger and conflicts slide right off you! Or when you meditate, observe old hurts float by on distant clouds. Because I am a gardener, when I meditate, I pull out unwanted weeds.
Next, to help you shed stress, raise endorphins and keep you in the present begin an exercise regimen. Strength training improves focus by oxygenating and driving glucose into the brain. You have to be in the moment when lifting weights otherwise you might be unable to execute the movement properly. “How can you think and hit at the same time?” Yogi Berra asked. In fact, use strength training as a physical affirmation for your new mindset. Think it and do it. For example, play catch using a weighted medicine ball. When you throw it off your chest say, “I release the old pains.” When you catch the ball say, “I catch the abundance of life. I release to hold more.” This fitness move works the upper body and is aerobic.
Exercise your mind
Once you are in the frame of mind to exercise, remember to exercise your mind. Learn something new everyday, even a vocabulary word, or a telephone number. Learn to navigate a computer for the latest information. Nothing deadens the heart like routine. Change your routine, even where you sit at the kitchen table for a new perspective. In fact, taking exercise classes with new physical moves awakens your brain similar to intellectual stimulation. These exercise classes provide a double benefit of oxygenating the brain and increasing neural pathways.
Sadness oppresses the soul. When you feel despair, emerge from the darkness to see the light. Although when you are depressed you might not feel like it, get out into the sun to absorb its healing energy. Seek out people who are sunny and positive; avoid those who are negative and toxic. Watch comedies and smile often. Smiling releases serotonin in the brain which will cheer you up. Worthy to note: a good cry releases serotonin too. Shakespeare said, “There is nothing either bad or good, but thinking makes it so.” Choose to perceive the positive.
Eat a rainbow diet of fruits and vegetables to get phyto-chemicals, rich in anti-oxidants. Blueberries and spinach are memory-boosting foods. Omega 3s available in salmon and flaxseed oil help prevent Alzheimer’s. The Harvard Medical Newsletter advises: be heart smart— keep your LDL cholesterol and blood pressure down to recommended guidelines. Anything over a normal blood pressure of 120 systolic and 80 diastolic is considered pre-hypertensive or hypertensive. A Vitamin E supplement would be helpful as well as anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofin. Finally, remember to drink about eight cups of water daily and eat fiber to rid the body of toxins. Note: the latest research points to head and heart being related. The remedies required for cardiac health will also keep your mind sharp.
However, make up your mind to live your true life—now! Don’t postpone for the golden years. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and have fun. Along with your rainbow diet cultivate a rainbow attitude. When it rains, you can expect to see a rainbow as a Divine covenant. This perspective will help you live consciously and serenely.
When both my parents contracted Alzheimer’s, lightning striking my house twice, I learned to let go, absorbing the beauty around me, even the dandelion growing in a cracked sidewalk. Determined to pursue my passion, I quit a secure teaching position to write. When others questioned, “Who are you to write?” I answered, “Who am I not?”
My parents, holocaust survivors, were exposed to years of stress and cosmic-scale losses. My parents could not relinquish their past. Their environment sentenced them to Alzheimer’s. After all, how does one release Auschwitz?
They taught me to thrive instead of survive, letting irritations slide. Everything pales before Auschwitz. Everything. Therefore I dare to dream and dream to dare. I suggest you do the same…
Debbie Eisenstadt Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer at Brooklyn College. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WLIR 92.7 FM in New York City and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com