Wednesday, January 31, 2024

In-Home Care for the Seriously Ill - You May Qualify for More Help Than You Think

 The husband of a friend of mine died a few months ago. He was only on hospice for two days before he died.  Although they had paid for long-term care insurance for years, he did not take advantage of it during the months before he died, despite the fact that his death was not a total surprise.  He had metastatic melanoma, failing kidneys and COPD. He could only leave the home with assistance. He was often in pain. Unfortunately, during those last few months they did not hire a caregiver for him and his wife provided all his care, right up until he went into the hospital for the final time and then was brought home on hospice for the last two days of his life.  When the wife finally hired a caregiver, her husband died two days later.  They barely took advantage of the long-time care insurance they had paid for.

Since then, my friend and I have had several discussions about what she wished she had done differently. Number one on her list was that she wished she had gotten more help and more care for her husband at home in the months before he died.  Doing that might not have helped him live longer, but it might have made his quality of life better.

Of course, not everyone has a long-term care policy.  However, everyone deserves to have help in the final months of life, and every caregiver deserves to have some relief from taking care of everything alone. There are many ways you can get more help during the final months or years of your life.

Where to Find the Help You Need

You might qualify for Medicaid - Medicaid is the largest payer for nursing home care in the U.S. and, in many cases, they will also pay for an ill person to get part-time care at home, as needed.  You can find out if you qualify in your state by contacting your local Social Services or Medicare office.   You may be surprised at how much assistance they can give you, especially if you are on both Medicare and Medicaid at the same time.  

Ask your doctor about home healthcare, home palliative care, or home hospice - Even if you do not qualify for Medicaid, these other programs will allow you to have occasional visits from a home nurse and/or physical therapist, combined with video visits with your doctors.  For people who are dealing with debilitating chronic health conditions, it can make life much easier if you can avoid as many difficult trips to the doctor's office as possible.  

If you are initially turned down, do not be afraid to appeal.  My husband, who has kidney and heart failure, qualifies for home healthcare and gets many of his services at home.  Nurses and physical therapists come to work with him at home, give him shots, check his medications, and take his blood pressure and other vitals.  Most of his doctor visits are video visits.  It is a huge relief to me to not have to take him to the doctor's office for an in-person visit very often.

Arrange for meal and grocery deliveries at home - There are now many companies, in addition to Meals on Wheels, which can deliver nutritious meals to you several times a week. Our neighbors who receive Meals on Wheels also have the additional benefit of having someone who checks on them to make sure they are OK.

You can also order your groceries online.  Most large grocery chains offer that service. One of my favorite grocery delivery services is Amazon Fresh (Ad), which my husband and I have used since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.  I especially like the fact that they deliver heavy items right to my door, including groceries such as milk, bottles of juice, cases of sparkling water, soda, and laundry detergent. They also bring the bulky items like paper towels and toilet tissue.  As my husband's primary caregiver, having groceries delivered makes my life much easier.  I order from them about once every two to three weeks.  In between, I stop at the store just to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, and anything I want on the spur of the moment.

Contact your local Senior Center for information about medical transportation and other services - Senior Centers are a wealth of information.  They can put you in touch with Meals on Wheels, medical transportation, and a variety of programs which will make it easier for you to remain at home, even if you are fighting a serious illness such as cancer or heart failure.  They also offer opportunities to socialize, which can be important to your mental and physical health.

If you have a long-term care policy, use it when you become eligible - You may qualify for your long-term care insurance policy, especially if your life expectancy has become short and your health has declined to the point that you are falling often, need help with showering and personal hygiene, and/or you have difficulty transferring from your bed to your walker or chair.  When this happens, you should initiate a claim on your long-term care policy.  Dementia can also qualify you, as well as being put on palliative care or hospice. You've been paying for this policy, so do not hesitate to use it when you are nearing the end of your life.

All the above programs make life easier for people during their final years.  Make sure you take advantage of any programs you qualify for.  Even getting just a little extra help can make a huge difference in the quality of your life.

Do as much shopping from home as possible - In addition to groceries, you can shop online at sites like Amazon (Ad), Etsy, WalMart, and many drug store chains for cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, clothing, gifts for your friends and family, or other products you might need.  This is an especially easy way to send gifts to your adult children and grandchildren.  Try to avoid as many stressful shopping trips as possible, unless you have someone to help you.  If you are ill yourself, or a caregiver for someone else, try to delegate routine chores as much as possible, so you do not have to handle everything for yourself. 

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Sunday, January 14, 2024

Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Retirement

My husband and I have been in 12 Step Recovery programs, Alcoholics Anonymous and Al Anon, for over 40 years, since we were both in our 30s.  As young adults, alcohol abuse was already having a bad effect on our marriage, and my husband realized he had to stop.  I realized that I had to change some aspects of my behavior, too.  Although we were still young adults, we knew that we were headed for disaster if we continued on the same path.

That was over 40 years ago, and we are so glad we made the joint decision to make some major changes in our lives, although it has not been easy.

One of the things we have noticed over the years is that more people show up at our AA and Alanon meetings each January, usually because people have over-indulged during the holidays.  Gradually, many of them leave, convinced that they either cannot stop drinking, or they cannot change their behavior in other ways.  

However, for those who stay in 12 step recovery programs, most of them have discovered that it has changed their lives for the better, and dramatically improved their relationships with their spouse, children and other friends and family members.  You are never too old to start changing your life, too.

The Covid pandemic caused millions of senior citizens to increase the amount of alcohol they drank.  Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered that about 14 percent of older Americans self-reported that they were drinking more.  Stuck at home, often spending large amounts of time by themselves, drinking became all too common.

Many adults between the ages of 50 and 80 reported that they sometimes drink at least three or more drinks at one time.  This is significantly more than the recommended limit of one small drink for women (about a half cup) and two small drinks for men (totaling about one cup of wine or two normal size beers) in a single day.  Many people have no idea the effect that large amounts of alcohol can have on them.

Seniors Don't Process Alcohol Well

The older we are, the less able we are to process alcohol, and doctors estimate that this biological change begins at around age 50.  This means that you are more likely to suffer from hangovers and other health problems when you overindulge. 

Your body has less muscle as you age, and because muscle stores more water than fat, you have less water in your body.  As a result, the alcohol you drink is not diluted by water as much as when you were in your twenties or thirties.  This means that if you are given a blood alcohol test by a police officer, you are more likely to have a high blood alcohol level after fewer drinks.  If you want to avoid those DUI tickets (and the huge expense), you need to seriously reduce the amount of alcohol you consume when you go out. 

The reduced muscle in your body is not the only cause of high blood alcohol levels.  In addition, your stomach and liver do not produce as much of an alcohol-digesting enzyme called ADH.  Since women have less ADH than men to start with, they have an even harder time eliminating the alcohol from their system as they age.

Most of Us Cannot Judge the Effect of Alcohol on Us

In some cases, we do not think we are drinking as much as we did 20 years ago, so we convince ourselves that we do not have a problem.  However, regardless of what we believe, we could be completely wrong.  Most of us have no idea how much alcohol is affecting our balance, our reflexes, our eyesight and our hearing.  

Because we have difficulty judging our own sobriety, we may be certain it is perfectly safe for us to drive, even when we are not capable of handling a car.  (By the way, the same is true when we take certain medications.  We may believe our faculties and reflexes are not affected, when they really are.)

Alcohol Dehydrates Us, and We May Already Be Dehydrated

Many older people do not drink enough water during the day, which leaves them slightly dehydrated.  Try pinching the skin on the back of your hand for a couple of seconds, and then let go. The longer it takes for the skin to fall back into place, the more dehydrated you are.  This is a common problem for senior citizens, even when we are sober.

Alcohol does not hydrate us. Instead, it increases the dehydration in our body.  Even though we may think that the beer or cocktail we are drinking is a liquid and would, therefore, help hydrate us, it really does the opposite.  Alcohol pulls water from our system, which is why you may experience a dry cottonmouth feeling the next morning.  

Notice how much more you urinate while you are drinking alcoholic beverages?  That urine is the water you are losing from your body. 

Too Much Alcohol Can Speed Up Brain Aging

As long as you stick to one drink for women and two for men in a day (and we're talking small drink sizes, not supersize ones), then most people are probably safe.  However, if you go beyond that amount, researchers have discovered that we lose volume in the frontal cortex of our brains.  In other words, our brain starts shrinking!

What does the frontal cortex do?  It helps us control our impulsive and compulsive behavior.  So, the more we drink, the more our frontal cortex shrinks.  This makes it harder to control our impulses, which causes us to drink more.  Our brain ages even faster.  It becomes a vicious cycle.  In addition, your brain volume does not come back when you stop drinking.  You may continue to be more impulsive and compulsive.  That is why going to alcohol rehabilitation or joining organizations like AA are so helpful.  They help people recognize and change any negative behaviors which may linger even after you are sober.

Alcohol Can Worsen Up to 200 Medical Conditions

We all know that alcohol can cause liver disease.  However, alcohol abuse can also worsen cancer, especially oral cancers.  It can raise your blood pressure (and you thought it would help you "relax.")  It increases your risk of having a stroke, worsens diabetes, and is unhealthy for anyone dealing with an immune system disorder.  Those are just the tip of the iceberg.  Alcohol can make almost any disease worse.

Excessive drinking also make it harder to get good quality sleep.  You may initially fall asleep, but then wake up just a few hours later when the alcohol wears off, which disrupts your rest for the remainder of the night.  

Try to Just Cut Back on Your Drinking

While a small amount of alcohol probably will not harm most people, and a little beer or wine may even help your heart, it is important not to push the limits, even occasionally.  Try cutting back or giving up alcohol for a while. If you feel healthier and generally better after a few weeks without alcohol, then this should tell you everything you need to know.  Keep it up!

If you discover that it is almost impossible for you to cut back, and you definitely cannot abstain on your own, talk to your doctor, consider going to rehab, or find a local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.  There are thousands of men and women who have gone through the same thing in every community, and they will be happy to help you.

Support Others When They Cut Back

One type of behavior which is common in problem drinkers is the tendency for them to push other people to drink excessively.  How often have we all heard people push us to drink "One more for the road!" (Are they kidding?  On the road is the last place you should be if you have been drinking!)

Instead, it is much more helpful to offer encouragement to people who are trying to cut back, or eliminate alcohol from their lives, and we should do whatever we can to help them stick with their program, whether they are trying AA or some other sobriety program.  If they belong to a 12 Step Recovery Group, like Alcoholics Anonymous, they need to be encouraged to stay with it.  

Whether you join AA, or Alanon (an organization to help the friends and families of problem drinkers deal with the problems that alcoholism causes) or you just want to encourage someone else, you may wish to send them a positive note or give them a gift to support their efforts and let them know how proud you are of their efforts. 

Help them celebrate events such as their sobriety birthdays or Alanon anniversaries.  You can give members of the AA program jewelry or t-shirts to help them celebrate. 

The important thing to remember is that we all benefit when we encourage and support our friends and loved ones as they try to to stick with a 12 Step sober recovery program, and any way you can do that is beneficial. 

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Source:  Facts about alcohol and aging from the March 2022 AARP Bulletin.

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Saturday, December 30, 2023

Top Retirement Stories of 2023 - What Interested Baby Boomers the Most?

Once again, it is time to review the articles which interested retirees the most during the past year.  I was delighted to see that the article on volunteering was, by far, the most popular topic of the year.  This is so important because it is also a way that people can achieve other goals, such as postponing dementia and maintaining our mental health.  Other topics of interest this years included starting a business to help caregivers, saving Social Security by making a few small changes, eliminating the unfair WEP / GPO programs that reduce Social Security benefits for certain groups of people, learning how our political policies can affect our life expectancy, knowing what to expect if you are diagnosed with lung cancer and, finally, discovering the relationship between getting routing vaccinations and lowering our risk of dementia.  

These are a wide range of topics which interested my readers this year, and it shows that Baby Boomers continue to live active lives with varying interests throughout their lifetimes.  Below are the ten most popular articles on this retirement blog for 2023.  The links are included, so you can easily read them for yourself!

Volunteering on Vacation or in Retirement - Improve Your Life and the Lives of Others - This article was read more than twice as often as the second most popular article on my blog.  It lists several agencies which can help you find the right volunteer opportunity for you all around the world.  These experiences can be life changing, and I sincerely hope that this article inspired a number of people to do something fantastic with their lives!

Dementia - Are You Increasing Your Risk - As always, the topic of dementia also attracted many readers this year.  While some causes of dementia cannot be changed, there are certain behaviors which can substantially increase your risk, including our diet and leading a sedentary lifestyle.  Read more about what you can and cannot change to reduce your chances of getting dementia.

Help Senior Caregivers by Starting a Support Business - Have you ever thought about starting your own business?  Once area where there is a lot of demand is in the area of support businesses for people who are taking care of others.  There are a number of different services you could offer to family caregivers including counseling, transportation, caregiving assistance and food services, depending on your background and interests.  This article explains some of the practical considerations you need to consider in starting any new business. 

Can Social Security Be Saved? Yes With a Few Changes - This article offers practical, realistic solutions to saving Social Security for our generation, as well as for our children and grandchildren.  With the Social Security Trust Fund expected to run out of money within another 10 years, it is time that Congress stepped up and made the necessary changes.  This is more likely to happen if people understand what needs to be done, and make the effort to contact their Senators and U.S. Representatives and ask them to take action.  The alternative is that benefits could be cut at some point, which would simply force more people onto unfunded government programs such as welfare and food stamps.  That makes no sense at all.  Read the article and tell your government officials what you would like them do.   

Teachers, Public Employees, the WEP - GPO and Your Retirement - Did you know that public employees and teachers in about half the United States have their EARNED Social Security benefits cut by as much as 67% because they also get a public pension.  So, if they work as teachers or public employees, but spend part of their adult life working in the private sector, they get very little Social Security, even though they earned it.  In addition, this only happens in about half the U.S., because some states allow public employees to get their full earned Social Security benefits.  Learn more about this, and find out if your retirement benefits, or the benefits of someone in your family, could be affected.

Life Expectancy Differences Between Democrats and Republicans - Did you know that how you vote and where you live could make a dramatic difference in how long you might expect to live?  In fact, there is a 20 years difference in the life expectancy of Democrats who live in Democratic leaning counties, and Republicans living in Republican leaning counties, with Democrats having a life expectancy of 86 and Republicans having a life expectancy of 66.  This article comes complete with a long list of reference material at the end, so you can investigate the sources for yourself.  While this author is not a member of either political party, this information may give some readers something to consider the next time they go to the polls.  Do you really want to vote for candidates who have want to implement policies that could shorten your life or the lives of your loved ones? 

Lung Cancer Diagnosis - What Happens Next? - This article hit very close to home for me, since I was diagnosed with lung cancer in March of 2023, just six months after a close friend died of it.  Because I was so familiar with the topic, this article covers the symptoms, stages, treatments and resources to help lung cancer patients.  Having gone through this myself this year, I was particularly gratified to know that so many of my readers also were interested in learning more about the topic.  Unfortunately, that probably also means that many of my readers have either been diagnosed with cancer themselves, or have a loved one who has been diagnosed with it.

Maintaining Mental Health as We Age - One common issue with millions of Baby Boomers is that our mental health often declines as we age.  This article explains how to maintain our mental health through socialization, staying connected, eating right, exercise, getting enough sleep, finding hobbies, and seeking help.  Learn more about how to apply these methods in your life, so you do not fall into depression, anger, resentment and unhappiness as you get older, which happens to far to many of us.

Earn Extra Money During Retirement - Tips for Earning When You are Barely Scraping By - This article provides the reader with a variety of ways you can earn extra money when you are struggling to make ends meet on your Social Securityor pension alone.  These suggestions could also help people of all ages, and includes ideas like renting out unused space in your home, or earning money from your hobbies, as well as many others. Since so many people have trouble making ends meet, especially after they retire, these tips could make a huge difference in your life. 

Can Routine Vaccines Reduce Dementia Risk as You Age? What Else Can Lower Your Risk? - This article is based on several fascinating studies which show a correlation between getting routine vaccines, like those for the flu and shingles, and having a lower risk of developing dementia.  The studies have taken place in different states and nations, and they all seem to show the same result.  It is certainly worth considering.  Read more about the studies for yourself in this article. 

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Friday, December 15, 2023

Making Friends as an Adult: The Art of Building Meaningful Connections

We can still make friends as we age.

Life changes as we get older, especially after retirement. We may move to a new community, far from the friends we knew in the past.  Even if we stay in the same area, some of our long-time friends may have passed away or moved to be closer to their adult children.  We no longer are connected to the people we worked with over the years and, gradually, those relationships may slip away.

Being lonely can be dangerous.  It is associated with worse health outcomes, and could contribute to developing dementia at an earlier age.  However, with so many life changes after retirement, how can we avoid becoming lonely when we feel less connected to our old friends?

Making friends as an adult can seem like a daunting task, especially if you've recently retired, moved to a new city, started a new job, or experienced a significant life change. Unlike the structured environment of a job or school, where friendships often develop organically, adulthood presents unique challenges when it comes to building new connections. However, with a little effort and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, making friends, even as you age, can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Let's explore some effective strategies to help you navigate the journey of forming meaningful friendships as an adult.

Embrace Your Interests:

One of the most natural ways to make friends as an adult or retiree is to pursue group activities you genuinely enjoy. Whether it's joining a book club, attending a fitness class, getting involved in your place of worship, participating in a hobby group, or volunteering for a cause you're passionate about, engaging in activities that align with your interests will naturally connect you with like-minded individuals. Shared passions create a solid foundation for friendships to flourish, as you already have a common ground to build upon.

Be Open and Approachable:

Approachability is key when making new friends. A friendly smile and open body language can go a long way in encouraging others to approach you. Show genuine interest in people by actively listening to what they have to say. Ask questions and be curious about their experiences, opinions, and aspirations. Being approachable and genuinely interested in others makes it easier for potential friends to feel comfortable around you.  Be willing to share a little about your own background, but also stop talking about yourself long enough to ask others about their background, their families, and their interests.  Then, sit back and genuinely listen. You might be surprised at the interesting experiences other people are willing to share with you!

Attend Social Events:

Social events are fantastic opportunities to meet new people. Attend local festivals, social events, parties, or community gatherings. Be open to initiating conversations with strangers, and don't be afraid to introduce yourself. Remember that everyone is at the event to connect with others, so don't be shy about starting a conversation and sharing a bit about yourself.

If you have recently moved to a new retirement community, you will find that most of the people there also desire to meet their new neighbors.  They, too, want to form new connections!

Join Online Communities:

You can still make new friends, even if it is hard for you to get out and socialize as you age. The internet has made it easier than ever to find like-minded individuals and stay in touch with your family and old friends. Join online forums, social media groups, or platforms dedicated to your interests or hobbies. Engage in positive discussions, offer helpful advice, and connect with people who share similar passions. These virtual connections can often lead to real-life friendships and provide a safe space for introverts or those with social anxiety to ease into social interactions.

However, you also need to be cautious about online relationships.  Sadly, some people use these groups as a way to gain the trust of other members and then ask them for money.  Immediately cut off communication with anyone who begins to hint that they need money.  

You should also avoid getting into heated political or religious discussions with others online.  This will only make it harder to form friendships with others. 

Be Patient and Persistent:

Building genuine friendships takes time and effort. Don't be discouraged if you don't find your tribe right away, especially in a new community. Be patient and persistent in your pursuit of meaningful connections. Keep attending events, joining clubs, and engaging with others, even if it feels challenging at times. True friendships are worth the investment, and the process itself can be enriching and enlightening.

Be Authentic:

Authenticity is essential when making friends as an adult. Be yourself and embrace your uniqueness. Pretending to be someone you're not just to fit in will ultimately lead to superficial connections that lack depth. Embrace your quirks and vulnerabilities, as they make you relatable and genuine. When you are authentic, you'll naturally attract people who appreciate and value you for who you truly are.

Be Accepting and Uncritical

By the time we have reached our 50s or 60s, many of us have had a lot of life experience.  This can cause us to feel as if we know more than other people, and we can even start to believe we know what is best for others.  Learning to keep our strong opinions to ourselves, and being less critical of other people will make it easier to find friends.  Everyone wants to be accepted just as they are, and criticizing other people for the choices they have made is only going to cause hurt feelings.  Having an accepting and uncritical attitude will also ease strained family relationships, thus improving those connections, too.

Show Empathy and Support:

Friendships are nurtured through mutual support and empathy. Be there for your potential friends during both happy and challenging times. Celebrate their successes and offer a listening ear and a caring heart during their struggles. Being a reliable and empathetic friend fosters trust and strengthens the bond between you and others.

If you hear about a friend or neighbor who is going through a challenging health emergency, offer them a ride to a medical appointment, or take them a meal, or even a few cupcakes.  Just showing them how much you care will be greatly appreciated.  You may never know how one act of kindness can change a life!

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone:

Making friends as an adult often requires stepping outside of your comfort zone. Be willing to take the initiative to plan outings, invite people to join you in activities, or attend events. Embrace new experiences, as they offer great opportunities to meet new people and expand your social circle.

You might even occasionally invite your new friends or neighbors over for dinner, a barbecue, or just some morning coffee or an evening glass of wine on your patio.  Extending casual invitations to friends is a lovely way to get to know others better and deepen your friendships.

Over the years, every time my husband and I moved to a new neighborhood, we always made the first overture to our new neighbors by hosting a block party and inviting everyone who lived nearby.  It made it easier to get to know everyone quickly, and we never regretted reaching out to our neighbors within a few months of moving into a new home.

While making friends as an adult might not be as effortless as it was during our school days, the rewards of meaningful connections are well worth the effort. Embrace your interests, be open and approachable, attend social events, join online communities, be patient and persistent, be authentic, be less critical, show empathy and support, and step out of your comfort zone. By applying these strategies, you'll increase your chances of forming lasting and fulfilling friendships that enrich your life and the lives of those around you.

Remember, friendship is a beautiful journey of shared experiences, laughter, and support, and it's never too late to embark on that journey. So, take that first step, and let the world open up to you in ways you never imagined.  It could also keep you healthier and help you postpone dementia as long as possible!

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Don't forget to nurture your friendships, too.  When I was a Girl Scout leader, we taught the girls this song.  "Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other gold."  In other words, even as we make new friends, be sure to reach out to the ones you are still in contact with from the past.  Send them holiday and birthday cards.  Call them occasionally.  

If you are looking for small gift ideas for your friends, you might want to check out my Etsy shop at:

It has a number of inexpensive gift ideas to send a friend for any special occasion, including this bracelet.  The gift box can easily be personalized, too, at no extra charge, if you contact me on my Etsy shop with the personal message you want to send.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive one weekly email containing the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about common issues as we age, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, travel and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Can Routine Vaccines Reduce Dementia Risk as You Age? What Else Lowers Your Risk?

 Unlike most topics which are covered here, I was hesitant to discuss the subject of vaccines because they have become so controversial.  However, the October 2023 AARP Bulletin reported on an interesting study about the relationship between vaccines and dementia.  It may or may not affect your decision to stay up-to-date with your routine vaccinations, but it may help some people make a thoughtful decision.

The core discovery from Paul E Schulz, an M.D. and Professor of Neurology, as well as the Director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Center at the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Center in Houston, said "There is the potential fringe benefit of vaccination, which is reducing the risk of Alzheimer's."

Fascinating, to say the least!

Of course, this does not mean that everyone who gets vaccinated for the flu and other diseases will never get dementia.  It also does not mean that everyone who decides against being vaccinated will definitely develop dementia.  It only means that getting regular vaccinations for common illnesses like the flu, Covid and Shingles will improve your odds of avoiding dementia.  

Researchers have long observed that our behaviors during our adult lives play a significant part in determining whether or not we will have dementia in later years.  Getting our vaccines may be just one more factor we need to consider. 

What are the Facts About Vaccines and Dementia Risk?

Researchers such as Schulze from the University of Texas, as well as other researchers around the world, have made the following observations:

1.  People who get vaccinated for the flu and other infectious diseases are less likely to get dementia. They speculate that it might be because, when you get sick from the flu and other infections, we become more likely to get dementia. They aren't certain, but they have observed that there seems to be a relationship between vaccines and dementia which indicates that vaccines appear to offer a substantial protection to the brain.  

2.  When they compared two groups of 935,887 patients each, in the U.S,  researchers learned that those who had at least one flu vaccine over a four year period were 40% LESS likely to develop Alzheimer's, compared to people who were not vaccinated.  The more vaccinations the patients had received, the better off they were.  It does appear that vaccines are causing people to be protected against some types of dementia.

3.  The flu vaccine was not the only vaccination which seemed to protect against dementia. When elderly people received the Shingles vaccine in Wales, the group who were vaccinated had about a 20% lower dementia risk over a seven year period compared to those who were not vaccinated against Shingles.

4.  When Schulze and other researchers at the University of Texas studied the effects of a variety of vaccines, including those for shingles, pneumococcal pneumonia, and the Tdap vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), they discovered that those who were vaccinated against these diseases also had a lower rate of dementia. 

5.  Virologist Robert T. Schooley, an M.D. and infectious disease specialist at the University of California in San Diego, also noticed that people who have chronic inflammation from diseases such as HIV show signs of faster cognitive decline.  This indicates that diseases which seem unrelated to Alzheimer's may still play a factor in developing dementia.

6.  It seems that using vaccines to avoid a wide variety of diseases can play a significant role in avoiding dementia.   

What Else Can You Do to Reduce Your Dementia Risk?

Researchers at the University of California in Irvine, the Cleveland Clinic, as well as others, have also discovered additional ways to avoid or postpone dementia.  Sometimes they are called the Six Pillars of Brain Health. These include:

1.  Eat a healthy diet with a "plant-slant."  Good examples are the Mediterranean Diet and the MIND Diet.

2.  Get regular exercise, at least 150 minutes a week, to increase the blood flow to your brain.

3.   Exercise your brain with activities such as reading books and working puzzles in order to slow down cognitive decline.

4.   Get at least seven hours of sleep each night to help your brain "cleanse" itself and remove the toxins that build up during the day. 

5.   Have regular physical exams and follow your doctor's instructions in order to stay as healthy as possible.  In particular, you want to do whatever you can to avoid strokes, heart disease and similar problems which can have a devastating effect on your brain.  Since Covid-19 has been shown to increase your risk of a stroke or heart attack in the following months, getting the Covid-19 vaccine is another way in which vaccinations could have a protective effect on your brain and lower your dementia risk.

6.   Socialize, socialize, socialize.  We need human connections, stimulating conversations, and a sense of being a part of a community in order to keep our brains operating at their best. 

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Many people believe that having a sense of gratitude can also help keep your brain healthy.  Being grateful for what we have and for the people in our lives is a good attitude to have for healthy mental health, and when working to maintain positive relationships with friends and families.  

You may want to get yourself something like this engraved bracelet, available in steel, gold or rose gold finishes, as a reminder of the importance of gratitude in your life.  You can personalize it with a name or significant date on the back.

Look for it and a wide variety of other gifts and jewelry at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts at: (Ad)

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