“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Gandhi
I just returned home from Cleveland Thursday night. I spent the evening with my dad. I took the drive up there for a visit to the Cleveland Clinic with him. He’s had some issues in recent years with memory loss among other things. After taking some tests a couple weeks back, the initial thoughts were less than stellar. The early news is that it may not be as bad as we originally thought – Alzheimer’s. Although, there’s still a chance. More tests are coming so we’ll find on in a few weeks. He was in good spirits. Maybe it was the fact that my brother Mario was there with me, along with his girlfriend Sue. I don’t see my dad that often these days as we live a couple hours apart, but it was great to spend some quality time with him. After a nice Italian dinner in Little Italy (Cleveland) and some outstanding Gelato, I felt encouraged. I was encouraged that we still have time to help my dad. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for 5 million other Americans living with Alzheimer’s. I’m not expert, but I wonder how much that number could be reduced if we made a commitment, especially at an older age, to keep our minds as sharp as they can be.
- Every 67 seconds in the US, someone develops Alzheimer’s
- Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US
- Approximately 500,000 people die each year b/c they have Alzheimer’s
- In 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion – wow, this one floors me.
So, obviously, a very serious problem and one that I’m confident can be reduce with the right strategy in place.
- Exercise – And, not just going for a walk – he talked about getting his heart rate up a bit. Although my dad’s worked out throughout the years, I’m not so sure he’s really pushed the envelope.
- Learn a new skill – He called it a procedural skill that will help with his memory. Things like painting, pottery, riding a bike or even volunteering all fall into this category.
- Build structure – Building a routine into his day will help him stay on track.