Keeping Your Mind and Body

Keeping Your Mind and Body
Claudette Pelletier-Hannah

My son just completed a clinical placement on a dementia ward of a local hospital. Looking rather faded after his two-hour orientation he confessed, “I’m going to euthanize you.”

At the same time babies are being born all around me. It’s hard not to notice the contrast. Young and Old. New and Used. Plump and Withered.

No one plans to have dementia, to be sick or to be obese. These are very complicated matters, but it seems there is some overlap in how we end up there. Lifestyle does indeed impact our life.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, these are Risk factors for dementia that can be changed:

• High blood pressure
• Smoking
• Diabetes
• Obesity in mid-life
• Poor diet
• Lack of physical activity
• High alcohol consumption
• Low levels of formal education
• Depression
• Head injuries
• Hearing Loss
• Social Isolation
• Living within 50 meters of busy roads (due to vehicle pollution)

Risk factors that cannot be changed:
• Age – the older you become the higher the risk
• Gender – more women than men will have Alzheimers (other types of dementia affect us equally)
• Genetics – 20 different genes involved, but rarely runs in families

This begs the question, how do you want to live? How do you want to die? If you start with the end in mind does anything change for you? Healthy lifestyle habits practiced today are much like a financial investment. The sooner you start the richer you end up. There are no guarantees, but it’s never too late to start.

Understanding why you want to be slimmer or healthier is a vital part of getting there. Many clients tell me that their children or grandchildren are strong motivators for good health. The desire for longevity of a good quality relationship with the young ‘uns that is both physical and mental really matters. What is your motivator that really matters?

Both grandchildren and dementia seem like long shots for me right now. But who knows? It will be good to have a nurse in the family in any case, providing I don’t have dementia.