Monday, April 2, 2012

Vascular Dementia Can Be Avoided

My husband was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer's by a neurologist in September of 2010 as I wrote earlier. Recently I asked his primary care physician if it might only be Vascular Dementia and he said that we will only know with an autopsy.

Lifestyle can make a difference in whether someone gets Vascular Dementia or not. Last Friday I went to an Alzheimer's Association workshop in our area. One workshop presenter was a young nurse who when she was only 14 took care of her late Grandmother who had Vascular Dementia. This inspired this young lady to go into nursing and to reflect and research on Vascular Dementia.  She said that blood vessel damage to the brain is what causes this disease. One gets this disease by lifestyle choices that might be avoided. She has been losing weight she said.

Here are the lifestyle issues that she said predict who gets Vascular Dementia.
• History of heart attack, strokes or mini strokes

• Atherosclerosis

• High cholesterol HD and LDL under 100

• High blood pressure

• Type 2 Diabetes

• Smoking
I will have been married to my husband twelve years this month. In 2004 he had a heart attack, heart surgery, and contracted type 2 diabetes. He gave up smoking many years ago. He also has had carotid artery surgery shortly after the heart surgery. Hence he was a candidate for Vascular Dementia.

Many of the above conditions can be avoided with weight loss. I have never smoked, but I have had problems maintaining weight loss and regaining weight. After my husband started going downhill with dementia, he lost weight and I put on weight due to emotional eating. But this has changed recently with my rejoining Weight Watchers. I am determined to have the best possible health in my senior years and to not be one of those 60% of caregivers who die before their loved one with dementia dies. My doctor has been so pleased with my weight loss and the great blood pressure and HD and LDL readings that she wants to see me only twice a year instead of four times a year now.

My diet is certainly going well, but Weight Watchers does emphasize exercise. I am hoping to find time to exercise, but so far the main exercise I can fit into the schedule is yard work. Ugh! Do love to jog, but have been told to only walk now and hubby doesn't feel safe with my walking in our safe neighborhood. When we go to the gym, my husband just watches me. I guess I just have to accept that he will do little exercise there and fit this into my busy schedule of having to do everything, make a living, arrange for taxes, etc. Maybe I can start with a once a week gym visit and spend more time on weeding for exercise.

Some Alzheimer's and dementias will come until we find cures, but the one we do know about can be avoided early on. We certainly do not need to be the couple where both of us have Vascular Dementia.


  1. Hi Carol
    I have been on WW since January 1, and have lost 18 lbs. and I'm not done. I "try" to walk 3 times a week by myself, so I can go as fast as possible. I just ordered an exercise video from WW called "Belly, Butt, and Thighs". It's for strength and toning, and came with a big ball to use. I've been so busy with producing my Easter note cards that I haven't even opened the box in a week. Whenever anything unusual pops up in my schedule, exercise is the first to go. It's also hard to plan food carefully when overly busy. I understand your dilemma about finding the time. Thing is, maintaining good health is not optional for us. When I'm carrying extra weight it's easy to injure my back or shoulders when helping Gary move into bed, etc. My energy level has really increased too. That has helped me to take care of him with more joy. Did you read my blog about this?
    I am truly asking the Lord to give me the strength to care for Gary. I am praying the same for you, specifically that we both make a priority of exercise, and thoughtful food choices. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Laurie,
    So good to have a kindred spirit there and a prayer partner for the care of our husbands. And we both are fans of Weight Watchers! I love your blog, read it, and when I get some rest here, will write on it.
    Hugs and prayers,

  3. I have been faithful to exercise but I haven't been able to budge the scales. I've never been able to stick with WW. I had a hard time with all the thinking and measuring. My brain is easily overloaded these days. So glad it's working for you!