Have you ever given any thought to what motivates you?
I have. I can tell you what motivates me. What motivates me is fear, fear that someday, I might join the ranks of those with some type of dementia, sure everybody fears that they’ll develop dementia. But some people, I would say they have a greater chance than others, depending on their genetics. Dementia in various forms runs rampant on both sides of my family. So, I would say the chances of me getting dementia at some point are not so unrealistic. So I’m going to do everything I possibly can do to avoid it, to delay it, or to at least, educate others about the disease so that if I’m on the other side of this equation, I might benefit from someone else having some understanding of what my needs are, and how to make my journey through dementia a bit easier.
Chances are if you’re listening to this podcast, either you have the fear that someday you may develop dementia, or you know someone who’s either battled it in the past, and is no longer with us, or is currently going down that road. So I ask you what motivates you? It’s easy for all of us to put things off till tomorrow, except as the saying goes, tomorrow never comes. What I’ve decided to do is to embrace today, and to go ahead, and say no more excuses. I’m doing everything in my power to make today better, to strengthen those connections in my brain, to encourage neuroplasticity, which is the strengthening of the connections of the neurons within our brain. Don’t wait. Don’t wait until you retire, don’t wait until you have some free time, don’t wait until you finish other projects that are just waiting for you to finish them or maybe even start them. Don’t wait until, when, when, when, because when, at some point, might be dementia. And what I mean by that is, dementia tends to start several decades before we actually see clinical signs of it.
So it’s not like you can just decide at some point when you start having memory problems that, okay, I recognize, I’m having a little bit more of an issue with recall, then I would otherwise be expected to have at my age, and think that that disease actually started at that moment, because we know that’s not true. There’s a lot of things going on within our brains long before we ever have any awareness of the destruction.
So we have to be proactive, we have to assume that we’re at risk, because the reality is we all are at risk. Even if you don’t have any family members that have dementia. You, too, are at risk because the number one greatest risk factor for developing some type of dementia is age.
So if you are 50,55, 60 years old, you’re approaching that magical age of 65, because we know that at 65, many people are developing memory impairment, and they’re starting to show signs of it.
So what is your motivation? I challenge you. I challenge you to go ahead and to take control of your life. Like I said, my motivation is fear. I’ve had health scares in the past; in the last two years, I had a scare for breast cancer; fortunately, it was not actually breast cancer that was found, but it was a precursor, and now I’m on an every six months surveillance.
But for some people, breast cancer is a real fear in terms of their genetic predisposition; I was random; it doesn’t run in my family. But I still have to do all the right things with surveillance and monitoring and avoiding certain things that put me at greater risk.
I’ve had health scares for my children. They’ve had biopsies, they’ve had tests that we had to wait for the results, and you sit, and you wait, and you’re scared, and you pray, and you hope. And then when you find out everything’s okay you breathe easy, you drop your shoulders, you dodged the bullet.
But what if it’s dementia? Again, there’s no simple test that says yes or no. You’ll get it or you won’t, because as I’ve discussed in a previous podcast, genetic testing, although I do not encourage it, it’s not a guarantee that you will or won’t get it.
So what are you going to do, be motivated! Recognize that you’re in the driver’s seat, you have a say in this, and what I mean is even though you can’t control whether or not you get dementia, of whatever type, you can know that you have done everything in your power to avoid it, to lower your risk factors by having a healthy lifestyle, exercising on a regular basis, limiting alcohol consumption, avoid tobacco use, eat healthily, get plenty of rest and stimulate your brain! Part of what I do with Compassionate Education, which is my business, that I educate the public about all types of dementia, At The Window With Dementia, my podcast that you’re listening to right now, all of these stimulate my brain, they strengthen those connections, they keep my mind active and positively stressed, It lowers my risk of developing a type of dementia.
I take good care of myself, could I do better? Of course, I could.
But I’m doing something, and that’s my question to you. Are you? Are you doing something to promote your own brain health? Or are you just resting easy, assuming that it won’t happen to you? Because maybe you’re fortunate enough that it doesn’t run in your family.
But remember, it knows no boundaries; it can just spontaneously occur.
It doesn’t have to be something that has been in previous generations within your family. So, what motivates you? I told you what motivates me, and I highly encourage you from today forward. Make an action plan. Write it down. Look at it often. Do whatever you can do to keep the monster of dementia at bay. You’ll be glad you did. Your family will be grateful that you did. And ultimately, we are our own best advocates.
We need to go ahead, and we need to do whatever we possibly can to take care of ourselves, for as long as we can. And then when we can no longer do that, we hope that our family will step in. But in the meantime, you owe it to yourself; you owe it to your family, you owe it to everybody to do what’s right for you. You’ll feel better. I know I do. Now, when I have that occasional forgetful moment, my anxiety is a bit lower. It’s not like it has been in the past when I really wasn’t doing as much as I could for my own brain health. Have you had that moment yet? I had surgery about a year and a half ago, and I was under general anesthesia for a couple of hours. And we know that general anesthesia lingers, it hangs out, it doesn’t immediately clear your system completely. It causes some amnesia. It certainly did that for me. I got a glimpse into what it could be like if my memory impairment was permanent. And I didn’t like the way it felt. My mind was foggy. My memories were blurred. I couldn’t remember if I actually did something or if I had thought about doing something but actually had not completed it yet. I was missing items or struggling for words. I was scared to death. I was so afraid that I didn’t even share that deepest fear with my family. I wasn’t able to talk about it until things got better. And then, I was able to share that experience. But you know what that did that gave me a moment or a glimpse into what it might be like if I started having permanent memory impairment. And I’ll tell you I didn’t like it. It scared me. I don’t ever want to be back in that spot.
So I tell you: Find your motivation, whatever it is. Make an action plan. And from this moment forward, be in control. You’ll be glad you did.
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Thanks for listening and have a great day.