Brain Health - What is Your Dementia Risk?

Brain picture courtesy of morguefile.com
Laguna Woods, California
February 7, 2018 5:57pm CST
Beginning in January, 2018, I began taking a brain health class from a local college. The classes are led by a variety of local experts, including researchers from the University of California at Irvine, as well as nutritionists, psychologists and others. The information I have learned has been fascinating. I plan to share information about the classes on my retirement blog, baby-boomer-retirement.com, but I also thought I would relay some of the information to my friends here on MyLot. We all want to have healthy brains! I'll use the same photo of a brain at the top of each of my posts, so they will be easy for you to find. Before I go into the research, I want to give a short overview of dementia and Alzheimers, since they confuse many people. Dementia is the overall name for a number of brain conditions which include Alzheimer's Disease, vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia, Parkinson's Disease dementia and others. Alzheimer's is the most common, making up an estimated 60% of dementia cases. There are marked differences in what happens in the brain when you have different types of dementia. Alzheimer's is thought to be caused by plaques and tangles which build up for decades before symptoms are noticeable. Other types of dementia can be caused by a variety of diseases, vascular problems, strokes, aneurysms, medications, sleep problems and other issues. A few types of dementia are sometimes reversible, for example when it is caused by medications. However, once symptoms are present, most types of dementia are irreversible. The first topic in my brain health class came from Dr. Claudia Kawas, a researcher and neurologist at the University of California - Irvine, who is involved in the 90+ Study, which was featured on the television news magazine, "60 Minutes." She is studying what she calls "the oldest of the old." Dr. Kawas also has a website on which she has posted some of her research findings including: People who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those who abstained. People who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people did. Over 40% of people aged 90 and older suffer from dementia while almost 80% are disabled. Both are more common in women than men. About half of people with dementia over age 90 do not have sufficient neuropathology in their brain to explain their cognitive loss. People aged 90 and older with an APOE2 gene are less likely to have clinical Alzheimer’s dementia, but are much more likely to have Alzheimer’s neuropathology in their brains. You can find her website at: Wonder what your risk is of having dementia? At age 90, you have a 40% risk. At age 85, you have a 20% risk. At age 80, you have a 10% risk. At age 75, you have a 5% risk. At age 70, you have a 2% risk. As you can see, your risk doubles every five years starting at age 75, although younger adults can develop dementia, too. In the coming weeks, watch for more posts about what we can do to reduce our risk of developing dementia. Learn more about what Dr. Kawas has discovered in this video: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=dr+claudia+kawas+60+minutes#id=2&vid=c1b642bcadc5f54745047af99d91873a&action=click
UCI Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders
14 people like this
10 responses
@JudyEv (118731)
• Bunbury, Australia
8 Feb
Apparently they've developed a blood test that can detect a certain protein that indicates a high risk of Alzheimers. I don't think it is in use yet.
5 people like this
@jstory07 (65293)
• Roseburg, Oregon
8 Feb
I hope they will use it soon.
2 people like this
• Eugene, Oregon
8 Feb
@JudyEv, I heard about that, but the test was 400 people I think, so it will have to wait for large scale tests. Would you want to know?
2 people like this
• Laguna Woods, California
8 Feb
@JudyEv - The idea of a blood test to detect the risk of Alzheimers is a great idea, as long as they have a way to treat the problems they find. I would not like to know that info, if there is no treatment.
1 person likes this
@DianneN (74275)
• United States
8 Feb
Very interesting and I'm looking forward to more information. I'm surprised at hearing how being overweight can help one live longer. I assume that being overweight can lead to other health risks.
2 people like this
• Laguna Woods, California
9 Feb
@DianneN - When I have read the research of Dr. Kawas in more detail, what I learned is that being overweight is good up to about 10% over your top "ideal" weight, according to the charts. After that, it becomes a disadvantage. In addition, people who are underweight are often suffering from severe health problems which can shorten their lives. You may be interested in reading more online about her 90+ study or going onto YouTube and searching for videos by Dr. Claudia Kawas. She has been featured on "60 Minutes" more than once and has also given lectures at universities. Her research is quite fascinating. She speaks at our retirement community periodically and much of her research has been based on 35 years of following the residents here. Some residents have even volunteered to let her team study their brains after they die.
1 person likes this
@DianneN (74275)
• United States
9 Feb
@DeborahDiane I figured that was more realistic about the weight. Underweight I will never be, unless I get ill.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
9 Feb
@DianneN - We don't want to be underweight, but it is nice to know that we have a little bit of a range for our most comfortable, healthy weight! LOL
• Eugene, Oregon
8 Feb
That should be a fascinating class. Would you want to know what your actual likelihood of dementia is?
2 people like this
• Laguna Woods, California
8 Feb
@JamesHxstatic - No, I would not like to know, if there is nothing I could do about it. However, the purpose of this class is to help us find ways to protect our brains. Today, we studied the importance of sleep. Getting good quality sleep can minimize the effects of having a predisposition to dementia. Isn't that interesting? I'll write a more detailed post about that, soon.
1 person likes this
• Eugene, Oregon
8 Feb
@DeborahDiane That is interesting for sure. And good quality sleep is not always easy to come by. Anne was reading about some Indian herbs and spices that are supposed to help ward it off and the use of coconut oil as well. Let us know if that comes up, please.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
9 Feb
@JamesHxstatic I will definitely share everything I learn. I know that there are many people over age 60 on MyLot and, I believe, even younger people should know how to take care of their brains!
1 person likes this
@kepweng (11251)
8 Feb
my grandma Passed away in dimentia!
2 people like this
@TRBRocks420 (73764)
• Banks, Oregon
8 Feb
Very interesting and, thanks for sharing.
2 people like this
• Laguna Woods, California
8 Feb
@TRBRocks420 - I know you are not in this age group, yet, but I have found this brain health class to be very interesting.
1 person likes this
@jstory07 (65293)
• Roseburg, Oregon
8 Feb
I hope you share more information on the subject.
2 people like this
• Laguna Woods, California
8 Feb
@jstory07 - Thank you! I plan to keep sharing after each class I take over the next few months. I have already learned a lot from the first few classes.
• United States
8 Feb
I wonder when in that wonderful class the mention of biological warfare to military personnel will be studied since any offspring can be affected by whatever chemicals the parents might have been exposed too during their military involvement. Dementia is a difficult condition to address when so little information is really understood about the brain but I do remember learning that a brain can be changed, that the neuroplasticity is NOT permanent and does have hope if certain exercises are done with each of the hemispheres . . .
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
9 Feb
@enlightenedpsych2 - The class will go on for several months, so I'm not sure they will or will not cover that specific topic. However, they have already discussed that the neuroplasticity of the brain is not permanent and there are things which can be done to lessen our risk of dementia ... or there would be very little purpose to the class. I look forward to hearing more in the coming months.
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Feb
@DeborahDiane and I look forward to your posts on certain issues they will discuss !
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
10 Feb
@enlightenedpsych2 - Thank you!
1 person likes this
@KristenH (23297)
• Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
8 Feb
This is real interesting. I'll be 42 in May. So I don't have to worry about it for quite a long while.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
8 Feb
@KristenH - You are right that you do not have to worry about it, yet. However, they have learned that the plaques and tangles which are the precursors to Alzheimers begin to form decades before they cause memory loss, so the information I am learning in this class should help people of all ages.
1 person likes this
@KristenH (23297)
• Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
8 Feb
@DeborahDiane I so hope so.
1 person likes this
@shaggin (36275)
• United States
19 Feb
Working in a nursing facitlity for two years I saw many younger then 70 unfortunately
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
20 Feb
@shaggin - That must be really hard on a family when a person under age 70 develops dementia.
1 person likes this
@prashu228 (25814)
• India
13 Feb
Interesting topic, i think dementia is not common here, i have never seen any of my grandfathers generation suffering from this ..would like to know more