RHYTHM, WE GOT RHYTHM

American Nurse, a journal of the American Nurses Association, (June 2020 Vol. 15. 6, p 21) introduces us to the words of Florence Nightingale: “No amount of medical knowledge will lessen the accountability for nurses to do what nurses do; that is, manage the environment to promote positive life processes.”

This includes the 24-hour, 7-day-a-week nature of the work, which affects nurses’ health and well-being, including nutrition, particularly when working night shift according to an article by Sharon Tucker, PhD, APRN-CNS, NC-BC, EBP-C, FNAP, FAAN.

Hospital inpatient nursing positions new hires quickly experience the reality of 12-hour-plus shifts, rotating shifts and overtime.

CIRCADIAN

LIGHT-DARK, SLEEP-WAKE, ACTIVITY-REST, FEED-FAST

Working nights interferes with our body’s natural circadian rhythm (24-hour sleep/wake cycle). Circadian rhythm is a natural process that regulates the sleep/wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. It is linked to our body’s internal clock. Brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other important biological processes are determined by this cycle.

Chrononutrition – the balance between biology and diet suggests that feeding and fasting can synchronize our biological and solar clocks. The rhythm cycles involve 4 ideas: light-dark, sleeping-waking, activity-rest, feeding-fasting. (Stronger By Science Chrononutrition: Why Meal Timing and Nutrition, Calorie Distribution & Feeding Windows Really Do Matter Nov. 18, 2019).

Serious health problems can occur when the circadian rhythm and chrononutrition are disrupted. It’s called chronodisruption.

Working as a night shift nurse, surviving on coffee and a partially eaten doughnut at 2 am surely alters and probably misaligns a nurse’s circadian rhythm and throws them into chronodisruption. Night-shift work may alter eating patterns (which impact your body’s regulator responses to metabolism) and food choices. Several studies have shown a relationship between altered circadian rhythms, eating patterns, and obesity.

These studies have important implications not only for night-shift and rotating-shift nurses but everyone of us wishing to maintain our health and wellbeing.

The “Nursing, night shift, and nutrition” article and the scientific field of Chronobiology outline a strategy that maximizes nutrition benefits throughout the day. When and how we eat has the potential to synchronize our circadian rhythm. Therefore, we need to align our internal cycles.

Eating at our biological night is a bad idea and the larger the calorie intake the more detrimental it is during the biological night.

Our tissues are more sensitive to insulin in the morning than at night with a decrease in sensitivity to insulin across the day. Eating a good breakfast can help promote good energy levels throughout the day.

During sleep the body is in a fasting state that promotes the release of stored glucose for central nervous system function. Eating during this time disrupts the system.

Research shows that if you consume most of your daily calories within 4 hours of going to sleep you will have more body fat than than people who don’t eat within that 4 hour span. Avoiding large carbohydrate loads in the evening is a good idea.

Night-shift nurses may find their circadian rhythm centered by choosing light snacks – such as fruits, vegetables, protein (nuts, yogurt, tune), and salads – that will increase energy. Also, eating the main meal before going to work will provide more fuel for their shift.

Caffeine is a double-edge sword. Systemic reviews demonstrate moderate consumption can improve alertness, vigilance and psychomotor performance; however, caffeine can interrupt sleep when night-shift workers want to rest. Avoiding caffeine 4 to 6 hours before planned sleep is a good idea because caffeine can reduce sleep efficiency, sleep duration, and slow-wave and REM sleep.

High-fat and high-sugar substances will ultimately make fatigue and energy swings more challenging. So, if you’re tempted to grab that last minute snack at the convenience store on your way to night-shift work – think twice, plan ahead and bring a packed meal from home.

Stronger By Science – Chrononutrition and Nursing, night shift, and nutrition offer a perspective for keeping our rhythm synchronized.

WORK TOGETHER:

  • Establish norms and healthy food guidelines – Shift work doesn’t always allow for family meals but at least plan for weekly, nutritious meals earlier in the day
  • Arrange to have healthy foods available both to prepare for the meal and to take to work for the night-shift “time-clock”
  • Prepare meals ahead of time so that you’re not tempted to grab a quick last-minute, fat-filled, calorie-laden snack to go along with your 4th cup of caffeinated coffee

FOLLOW THE LIGHT:

  • People in the US spend about 87% of their time in enclosed buildings when you factor in work schedules and indoor environments – this can cause chromodisruption. We need to get out into the sunlight, at least 20 minutes a day. Of course, do this cautiously keeping in mind the powerful rays of the sun an its potential to burn your skin with ultraviolet rays – always use sunscreen.
  • However, “the light” does not mean the light from using electronic devices that can inhibit your ability to sleep and rest. That includes the light from cell phones, laptops, computers, or any other play items whether for children or adults that emits electronic light. Sending your child or toddler to bed with an electronic, light-emitting toy may disrupt their sleep.
  • If you are a night-shift worker try to get 20 minutes of daytime sun

STAY ACTIVE:

  • Regular physical activity is associated with increased mental and physical health
  • Conditioning exercises reduce your risk of heart attack and helps to manage your ideal weight
  • Physical activity helps to prevent chronic disease and maintain stronger muscles

Keeping your rhythm, keeping your sway, keeping your to-and-fro is the key whether you work night shift or you punch the clock from 9-5.

Healthy in Body and Mind

Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 5.5 million Americans, most of them age 65 or older, may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s (NIH fact sheet 6/17/2020), (www.nih.gov).

Combining more healthy lifestyle behaviors was associated with substantially lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease in a study that included data from nearly 3,000 research participants. Those who adhered to four or all of the five specified healthy behaviors were found to have a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s.

The behaviors were:

  • physical activity
  • not smoking
  • light-to-moderate alcohol consumption
  • a high-quality diet
  • cognitive activities

Funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, this research was published in the June 17, 2020 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Richard J. Hodes the NIA Director states, “This observational study provides more evidence on how a combination of modifiable behaviors may mitigate Alzheimer’s disease risk.” (www.nia.nih.gov)

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults and currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Recent estimates indicate that the disorder may rank it third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as the cause of death for older people.

Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairments related to Alzheimer’s disease. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In MCI, people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives.

Doctors may diagnose Alzheimer’s by:

  • Asking questions about the persons overall health and medications
  • Noticing changes in personality or behavior
  • Administering tests of memory, problem solving, attention and counting
  • Carrying out standard medical tests: blood and urine to rule out causes for changes
  • Performing brain scans – PT, CT, MRI

The NIA Director, Dr. Richard J. Hodes also states that the NIA observational study of 3,000 research participants provides more evidence on how a combination of modifiable behaviors may mitigate Alzheimer’s disease risk.”

The researchers scored each participant based on the five healthy lifestyle factors:

  • At least 150 minutes per week of moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity – Physical activity is an important part of healthy aging
  • Not smoking – Established research has confirmed that even in people 60 and older who have been smoking for decades, quitting will improve health
  • Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption – Limiting use of alcohol may help cognitive health
  • A high-quality, Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, which combines the Mediterranean diet with Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet – The MIND diet focuses on plant-based foods linked to dementia prevention
  • Engagement in late-life cognitive activities – Being intellectually engaged by keeping the mind active may benefit the brain
  • The SPRINT MIND trial, also suggests that intensive blood pressure control may slow age-related brain damage

The NIA is also funding more than 230 additional studies focusing on Alzheimer’s and dementia related issues. These include cognitive training, sleep evaluations and combination therapies.

Research by the National Institute on Aging suggests that a host of factors beyond genetics may play a role in the development and course of Alzheimer’s disease. There is a great deal of interest in the relationship between cognitive decline and vascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, as well as metabolic conditions such as diabetes as obesity.

The message seems to be: in addition to keeping regular medical appointments, stay physically active, socially engaged and eat a heart healthy diet on a regular basis – maybe we’ll all live to be a healthy 100 years old.

Epigenetic Aging

Accurately estimating biological age has tremendous value according to Adam Alonzi’s recent article entitled “Gauge Your Age: Epigenetics and the Future of Medicine.”

Smoking, drinking, stress, chronic infection, and major depression can all measurably accelerate the aging process as gauged by the epigenetic clock (Gao,2016; Gassen, 2017; Horvath, 2015; Rosen, 2018; Han; 2018).

Fear of transmitting, or acquiring, the virus that causes COVID-19 even if you or the other person is asymptomatic has been a strong driver of widespread compliance with face masks and physical distancing. However, we really don’t know how often an asymptomatic person infects a secondary individual.

According to an article by Laura A. Stokowski RN, MS, the number of asymptomatic people isn’t trivial. Recent data published in Annals of Internal Medicine indicates that 40%-50% of people with COVID-19 may be asymptomatic but have viral loads similar to those of presymptomatic individuals. Until we know how much transmission occurs from asymptomatic people, that risk hasn’t been eliminated, and that source must be considered infectious.

The question is: Can the effects of the virus that causes COVID-19 spreading around the world be causing a DNA methylation modification?

While we all age, we don’t all age in the same ways or at the same rate. Epigenetics modifications are largely responsible for this phenomenon, with DNA methylation being the most studied modification.

Adam Alonzi ask the question – Why do some people stay healthy throughout their lives and others don’t?

Methylation doesn’t rearrange DNA but it affects the expression of DNA. There is evidence that methylation traces or tags can pass to future generations – much like tendencies or habits (Epigenetics Simplified).

Epigenetics is what determines a cells specialization. Chemical and environmental modifications occur around our DNA. These modifications influence the expression of our cells. Everything we do and experience affects our cells – whether good or bad.

I look at life from a health care and writers point of view. Epigenetics is a long, well-written story line with many actors and actresses. The writer (our life experiences) adjusts the story line (methylation).

97% – 99% is the overall recovery rate for people diagnosed with COVID-19. An early scientific study shows that people who recover from the COVID-19 virus may carry it in their system for weeks (WebMD Coronavirus Recovery).

Obviously, our life experience both chemical and physical influences the methylation wrapping around our DNA.

“In geriatric medicine, we are always struck by the difference between our patients’ chronological age and how old they appear physiologically.” – Douglas, Kiel, HMS professor of medicine at Beth Israel.

Currently, we have tests for fasting blood sugar, creatinine blood levels, and biomarkers for blood clotting factors. These tests paint a bigger picture and can write a longer or shorter story.

Are we in a life cycle where there’s evidence of aging based on COVID-19 test results? If so is there intervention?

The sands of time flow downward for all of us but with rapid scientific advancements that flow may grind to a smooth finish.

 

 

What Have I Learned

I seem to have my thoughts in two worlds: healthcare and writing.

In reviewing my paperwork I uncovered an outline compiled for a presentation. It’s relevant to both composition and our current battle with COVID-19.

  • I’m naive, But I Can Learn
  • Writing About it is The Easy Part
  • Block Out The ‘White Noise’
  • Organize
  • Advertise
  • Every Day – Write Something
  • Learn From People Who Are Successful
  • Accept Objective Feedback With an Open Mind

We may be NAIVE about not only the coronavirus properties but it virility. It could mutate into more invasive entities that we find uncontrollable or our invasive attacks may prove ineffective in overcoming not only this virus but other equally mortal viruses.

WRITING about COVID-19 from multiple sources concerning what causes coronavirus, how it’s spreads, where it came from, what’s the most effective treatment option, where should we go for credible health information, when will we be able to receive a vaccine, if ever, and finally will society be able to return back to life without COVID-19 in our lives is a daunting task.

With available information concerning COVID-19 it may be relatively easy to compile sentences about the coronavirus but bringing that data into coherent, scientific form is another story. It takes research and diligent background digging to bring that report to the public.

WHITE NOISE – It’s important to block out all the frivolous news and information that bombards our consciousness every day about this sharply important medical issue vying for the worlds attention and focus only on credible sources.

Everyone and every news source is talking to us about aspects of COVID-19. Telling us that surely we will die if we go outside of our homes, talk to anyone, shake hands with our neighbor, speak with family members or touch our mail.

Commercial retailers urge us to anxiously stockpile supplies before others grab limited quantities of toilet paper and hand sanitizer – estimated amounts seem to always dwindle.

WE ARE HEMORRHAGING!

LET’S GET ORGANIZED. We are forced into setting up our command post in every hospital, clinic and quick care through out the world. This is where we fight the battle – where we set up our ‘story board’ to find out our facts and design our ‘game plan.’ It’s an area that’s jealous of our time and pulls us back if we try to leave whether it’s in search of food, hydration or need of rest from sheer exhaustion.

We invest our lives whether we want to or not foregoing leisure time, family activities or even religious commitments. But here we are and here is where we organize and learn about our foe.

ADVERTISING and OBSERVING is what COVID-19 demands. So, we focus our attention on this killer virus and observe its mode of action and advertise to our colleagues, family and friends how it operates. The way you defeat your enemy is to know your enemy. We’re forced to know and observe this enemy closer than we ever imagined.

Since we’re here we will observe and advertise to anyone and everyone what we know so that everyone in the world will know what everyone else knows. That’s the only way a vaccine or a cure will be discovered.

Scientific journals, credible news articles, reliable medical resources and known governmental services will all aid in our quest for substantial, factual principals. Protocols and procedures will be developed from this information and everyone will share as tried-and-true medical formats are provided to all.

EVERY DAY COVID-19 is part of our lives. It occupies every aspect of our being.

LEARNING from people who are successful in treating COVID-19 is the key. Scientist, chemist, biologists, engineers, virologist, doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and astute observers are all joining forces in making a difference in finding answers about COVID-19. We already know much about this virus yet we have much to learn. That’s why we look to the people who are successful at battling the virus for answers.

ACCEPTING objective feedback from others can be challenging especially when you believe that your idea is the long-awaited answer to end suffering. We all tend to ‘own’ our ideas because we put them together – especially in this critical climate.

Remembering that it’s not personal in such a personal time is hard to do. But, it’s important that we do so that we can remain non-judgmental in giving and receiving information. The exchange of ideas and the flow of knowledge just may be the weapon that pierces the heart of COVID-19.

I have learned that healthcare and writing have much in common and by applying the principles of a good writer to the strengths of healthcare providers we will one day say – “COVID-19 IS HEMORRHAGING!

Helping Hands

Everyone is sequestered during this time of uncertainty. We as humans are helping each other in many ways to weather the unpredictable future. Using all of the parameters of social distancing and medical awareness we can offer helping hands to our fellow man.

person holding red petaled flower between his finger

Photo by Kristina Nor on Pexels.com

We can carry groceries to someone who can’t grocery shop for themselves.

Using our nimble hands to clean house for a person who has arthritis is a kind gesture.

Helping an elderly person with gardening by carrying a heavy pot is always welcome.

Mailing a letter for someone who is wheelchair bound is appreciated.

Assisting a single mother with childcare has untold advantages for mother and child.

Helping a young married couple settle into their new apartment may set them up for a positive path in life.

man s hand in shallow focus and grayscale photography

Photo by lalesh aldarwish on Pexels.com

Tutoring a high school student using a two-way computer lesson plan ensues uninterrupted grade-level learning

Sharing a ‘virtual hug’ to health care workers via video chat gives doctors and nurses a well-deserved reward.

person on a bridge near a lake

Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

We extend our helping hands to make life easier for our fellow man.

 

 

 

Nurses Day

National Nurses Day is designated to fall on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, whose birthday was May 12, 1820, and she is looked to as the foundational philosopher of modern nursing (Costco Connection May/2020).

grayscale photo of old pictures

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

National Nurses Week begins May 6 with National Nurses Day and culminates with International Nurses Day on May 12.  This is the most appropriate time to say thank you to not only nurses but all healthcare personnel for their tireless dedication at keeping us all safe and healthy.

Florence Nightingale was a trailblazing figure in nursing who greatly affected 19th and 20th-century policies for proper and life-saving medical care. She became known for her nightly hospital rounds to aid the wounded establishing her image as the “Lady with the Lamp.” Lady with the  Her Nightingale Home and Training School for Nurses in England formalized secular nursing education, and her basic concepts regarding nursing remain applicable today.

bed empty equipments floor

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

During this period of intense medical challenge fighting COVID-19, we have an opportunity to acknowledge the heroic work nurses and other healthcare workers are performing.

So, as we celebrate National Nurses Day and National Nurses Week let’s take this opportunity and show our appreciation!

 

Walking and Social Distancing

Walk – to move on foot at a natural unhurried gait. According to Merriam- Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus many other words accompany this small word – pace, trek, amble, saunter, stroll, wander, hobble, mince, tiptoe, swagger, lumber, shuffle, prance, nip, trip, etc,.

20200417_115450

So, whether you saunter, amble, or swagger when you take your daily walk during this quarantine time it’s important that you spend some time looking at the area that you walk through.

There may be springtime flowers blooming or a nest of birds busy building a nest for a new family.  Possibly a lizard is chasing bugs and insects.  Maybe quail and doves are spring cleaning their nesting area getting ready for new arrivals. Most probably your neighborhood is all abuzz with activity.

As you walk or saunter or pace along the path take a picture of all the wonderful things that are occurring right in your own backyard.  When you get home, look at those great pictures.

20200417_111822

Taking a relaxing walking while practicing social distancing is one of the activities we can do to keep ourselves healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

Tomorrow when you take another walk check to see if you can find the same birds and lizards and bugs that you found today and see if their activity has changed the neighborhood.

Nursing Credentials – COVID-19

“Credentials are a form of communication. We’ve all seen multiple streams of initials after nurses’ names.”  This was written by Jennifer Mensik, Ph.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN in an article What’s the Right Way to List Your Nursing Credentials? (Nurse.com West 2018).

woman throwing confetti

Photo by Joshua Mcknight on Pexels.com

On today’s front lines of battling coronavirus COVID-19, the fight requires all ‘hands on deck.’  Using our medical resources is paramount in combating COVID-19. Obviously, it’s the use of all medical personnel that’s going to help ensure that some corner is turned in our fight to manage these virus outbreaks.

Respect has been earned by nurses at the forefront of healthcare.  Nures who advance academically are exposed to healthcare leadership knowledge enabling them to have an organizational perspective of potentially deadly situations.

The best way to use the organized perspective of advanced care nurses may be to stationed them in direct patient care areas so they can not only assist with patient care but direct ‘boots-on-the-ground’ assignments.  This leaves all nurses and ancillary healthcare available for the many COVID-19 patients.

coronavirus news on screen

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

The number of letters or insignias that follows a nurse’s name indicates their level of professional achievement.  However, all nurses contribute in a professional manner whether it’s consoling a dying COVID-19 patient, comforting a newborn as it shakes through the withdrawal of its mothers’ drug use, or administering prescribed pain medication to a post-operative patient.

We all cherish nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers as they battle ‘head-on’ the COVID-19 challenge. Credentials are necessary and communication is key to a well-oiled team. All healthcare workers are vital as we battle COVID-19.

 

 

Nurses and COVID-19

According to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), “Moral distress is “knowing the right thing to do but being in a situation in which it is nearly impossible to do it.”

man in pink dress shirt

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Nurses are fighting under moral distress on the front lines caring for patients dealing with COVID-19.  State, local, and federal health officials are continuously monitoring and responding to an on-going outbreak of Coronavirus Disease.  Cases have been identified globally, including within the United States.

COVID-19 spreads person-to-person among close contacts via respiratory droplets produced from coughs or sneezes.  It is also possible to spread COVID-19 via touching infected surfaces and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.

pexels-photo-4031867.jpeg

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

The COVID-19 incubation period lasts 2-14 days, symptoms associated with COVID-19 include mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  Spreading the virus in the absence of symptoms is possible, however, those are most contagious.

A U.S. Legal News report by Gabriella Borter (April 8, 2020) relates that U.S. nurses who can’t get tested fear that they are spreading the COVID-19 virus. This report goes on to say that a New York City intensive care nurse treated patients for three days after she started displaying symptoms of COVID-19 – but couldn’t get a test from her hospital.

In Georgia, a nurse was denied a test after treating an infected patient who died.

Many medical centers are testing only the workers with the most severe symptoms, according to the frontline workers and hospital officials.  As a result, nurses and doctors risk infecting patients, colleagues and their families without knowing if they are carrying the virus.

Nationwide, the number of infections has surpassed 400,000 with nearly 13,000 deaths.

“It’s scary to come home and not know if you’re bringing it (COVID-19) home to your family,” said Sydnie Boylan, a nurse at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Boylan went to work in late March with a headache and sore throat, but no fever, after she had been exposed to a coronavirus patient while not wearing sufficient protective gear.  Those symptoms did not qualify for testing at her hospital.  Boylan’s hospital guidelines prioritize testing patients but not staff since they only have limited supplies.

Boylan said she has been tested at a drive-through site and is waiting for the results.

The AACN’s position relates “that moral distress is a complex, challenging problem with damaging repercussions that are often ignored in healthcare work environments.  This problem is exacerbated in times of crisis.  AACN asserts that every institution must implement readily accessible resources to identify and mitigate the harmful effects of moral distress.”

Ernest J. Grant, Ph.D., RN, FAAN President, American Nurses Association in an article written in American Nurse Journal (April 2020) – Healthcare and COVID-19 states “I can’t predict the future. But I know this: The health of our nation and the world frequently rests in the hands of nurses.  Nurses will always be there for our patients and communities through public health crises and other significant events.  I also we’ll always have to contend with external forces, like hurricanes, season influenza, or COVID-19.”

group of medical students at the hallway wearing face mask

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

As I view my fellow nurses enduring moral distress in combating COVID-19 I’m reminded of an article by Leah Curtin, RN, ScD(h) FAAN Executive Editor Outreach American Nurse Journal (April 2020)- Seven Values That Ensure a Good Life.

The article outlines the basic principles of ethics – love, truthfulness, fairness, freedom, unity, tolerance, responsibility.

Love: A spontaneous willingness to reach out to others in need

Truthfulness: Honest of intent and purpose, even where perception differs.

Fairness: Concept of equality and equity – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Freedom: A fundamental recognition of the human need for freedom of conscience.

Unity: A focus on our “oneness”

Tolerance: I would feel diminished if it were extinct – accepting variety.

Responsibility: Self-respect in the present

Each one of these values describes every nurse I’ve worked with and all the nurses currently working to preserve life and ease suffering for patients affected by COVID-19. 

Communication is a powerful tool – just as powerful as personal protective equipment (PPE) Nurses live in a web of moral duties that includes their duty to protect themselves, their patients, their families, and their communities.

man wearing blue scrub suit and mask sitting on bench

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

Nurses do the right thing in this impossible COVID-19 situation.  Supplying nurses with adequate PPE and supporting them with the basic principles of ethics is what we can all do to show our appreciation in this extremely stressful time in our nation’s history.  As Ernest Grant says: “…the health of our nation and the world frequently rests in the hands of our nurses.”

 

 

Brin Powr

Our Brain Power (Brin Powr) has incredible potential unless it isn’t working to its full capacity.

photo of head bust print artwork

Photo by meo on Pexels.com

According to WebMD.com your brain uses 20% of our body’s oxygen and calories.  This idea aligns with the fact that there are 86 billion nerve cells in the brain. A brain impulse travels from one nerve cell to another at 268 mph – faster than a race car.  Our brain can hold 1 petabyte of memory which is about the same storage capacity as 4.7 billion books or 230,00 DVD’s.

Our brain makes up 2% of our body weight yet it eats up about half of our total glucose supply.

Most of that energy is devoted to the process of impulse transmission from neuron to neuron.

However, when our brain isn’t working at its full capacity because of illness or a non-reversible decline in mental function unfortunately our phenomenal Brain Power can turn into our crippling Brin Powr.

grayscale photo of man s face

Photo by Dibakar Roy on Pexels.com

Dementia in the simplest term is a non-reversible decline in mental function. It’s a catch- all phrase that encompasses several disorders that cause chronic memory loss, personality change or impaired reasoning, Alzheimer’s disease being just one of them, says Dan G. Blazer, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.

Dementia, according to Dr. Constantine George Lyketsos, Director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center in Baltimore, must be severe enough to interfere with your daily life.

Alzheimer’s is a specific disease that slowly and irreversibly destroys memory and thinking skills and eventually takes away even the ability to carry out even the simplest tasks.

A cure for Alzheimer’s is elusive but researchers have identified biological evidence of the disease: amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia accounting for an estimated               60 to 80% of the cases.

WebMD.com gives us some staggering statistics:

  • 14 million Americans expected to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by 2050
  • 1 in 10 Americans older than 65 will have Alzheimer’s by 2050
  • 5.7 Million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease
  • 3X – Rise in deaths among U.S. adults with Alzheimer’s by 2050
  • $47 Trillion – Estimated cost of caring for Americans with Alzheimer’s in 2017
  • 18.4 Billion – # of Unpaid caregiver Hrs. for Alzheimer’s/Dementia Pts. in 2017
  • 244 – # of potential Alzheimer’s drugs tested between 2002 and 2012

Beth Kallmyer, MSW, vice president of care and support at the Alzheimer’s Association tells us that “Fear keeps people from telling others when they notice symptoms. They think nothing can be done – but there are things you can do to improve quality of life.”

Kallmyer also stresses that Alzheimer’s disease is a ‘long disease.’ She reminds us that progression in each person is variable, averaging 4 to 8 years but can take up to 20.  The more education a person and family receive the better the experience.

Forty-eight percent of older adults who munched, crunched, and sipped the most flavonols- beneficial compounds in fruits, vegetables, tea, and wine were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease then people who consumed the least according to a January 2019 report in Neurology – food is important to the brain.

Dr. Thomas M. Holland, a researcher at Rush University in Chicago found that flavonols have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help destroy free radicals, which damage cells. In animal studies, flavonols boosted memory and learning and decreased Alzheimer-like brain changes.

assorted sliced fruits

Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com

Flavonol – rich foods include: almonds, black beans, broccoli, blueberries, collards greens, dried figs, golden raisins, kale, onions, red cabbage, tomato paste, white beans

Dr. Holland recommends the American Heart Association’s ‘Simple 7‘ checklist to help maintain brain health.

  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy
  • Prevent or treat high blood pressure
  • Check for and treat high blood sugar
  • Avoid or treat high cholesterol

Dr. Holland adds – remain socially engaged and participate in brain-stimulating activities. A recent Mayo Clinic study published in Neurology in August 2019 relates that older adults who play card games, do crossword puzzles, use a computer, or do crafts have a lower risk for developing mild cognitive impairment than those who don’t.

So, whether you spell it Brin Powr or Brain Power our human brain is remarkable and accustomed to processing information at lighting speed. When we start missing social and mental signals it’s time to assess the situation and ask questions.  If you are the person who is having issues with your memory or ‘chasing words’ during a conversation you may want to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

If a loved one is showing signs of mental decline then it may be time to diplomatically  share the information that you have discovered with that person. Either way it’s certainly time to consider drawing up the necessary legal documents and getting the decision-making authority question decided.  Without documents outlining specifics the court will make decisions.

cute little baby lying on fur carpet

Photo by Cleyder Duque on Pexels.com

Your brain will take you on a journey – staying positive and healthy along the way will surely have its advantage.