A recent dementias study made the news with the assertion that it appears that people who make good grades in school and who have challenging and complex careers may have a lower risk of developing dementias.
I don’t agree with this at all.
I also think it gives false hope to all of us not yet showing signs of dementias.
Dementias are complex neurological diseases. Their development includes innumerable factors – most of which we don’t even know – that are involved in their genesis at the organic level (technology overload and addiction, which is rampant now, is definitely one of many lifestyle factors that are inorganic and not even included in the equation).
The reality is that I’ve known quite a few people in my life with dementias, including my mom.
They were excellent students and had very complex and demanding careers, along with personal lives that were filled with learning new things and sharing them in a way to put those things into practice.
Application is the complex side of learning.
There are some people who learn for the sake of learning, but they never do anything with it or figure out how to actually apply it in their lives, so it quickly goes away.
The people who learn and then do something with that learning – application – retain the knowledge and grow in it.
Some of those people that I’ve known, including my mom, were scientists.
Some were multicultural historians and linguists (a study was done that suggested that being bilingual lowers the chances that you will develop dementias).
Some were teachers.
Some were accomplished musicians (there was a recent study that suggested that playing a musical instrument insulates you from dementias).
Some were engineers.
None of these people were slouches as students or in their careers.
In other words, the majority of the people I’ve known with dementias were at the top of their fields academically and professionally, and it didn’t make a difference.
We humans cling to false hope and what we want to be true because it’s easier than admitting how much we don’t know and how much uncertainty lies in not knowing. It’s a form of self-deception that we all are susceptible to.
The best we can do is educate ourselves about dementias. Then we do the hard part of applying that knowledge and making the changes we have control over (lifestyle is a huge factor) immediately to protect ourselves as well as we are able.
How do we do that in practical terms?
Education is the point of and the reason for this blog. I have developed and written and continue to develop and write posts so that this is an exhaustive and comprehensive educational resource on the types of dementia and on practical and in-the-moment caregiving.
There is not another blog out there that looks at these neurological diseases from a big picture aspect – covering all the dementias – and gives caregiving information that people can use today in appropriately responsive and loving caregiving for their loved ones.
Education is also the point of and the reason for the two books I’ve written on practical caregiving and practically understanding, walking through, and responding to the steps of the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease that we walk with our loved ones.
I urge all of us to know the facts and not get caught up in studies that promise things that are not provable or that are suspect.
Dementias are big-picture neurological diseases with a lot of unknowns that come into play for them to develop. Instead of focusing on a particular type of dementia, focus on what all dementias look like in real life.
Educate yourselves on real life caregiving and how to improve on being loving, kind, and gentle caregivers who also maintain the dignity and independence (as much as safety will allow independence) of your loved ones.
Educate yourselves on what steps you can take to eliminate some of the known factors in your own lives. Then apply that knowledge and eliminate them.
The reality is that the brain is the most complex system in the body and our insights into it have barely scratched the surface of what there is to learn about this incredible control center each of us have been given. The reality is that we will never understand it completely in a comprehensive way.
But Going Gentle Into That Good Night takes the comprehensive approach and, as much as can be understood about dementias from all the possible angles provides that information to you as a resource.
Take some time to read the posts listed on the right sidebar.
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