Fifty years of Alzheimer’s

We think of Alzheimer’s disease as something that affects the brains of older people. Actually, half of older people are never affected by it, and many who have it will die naturally before the disease is even diagnosed. One of the most interesting, and influential, books about Alzheimer’s Disease is Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives
by David Snowdon.

I’m fascinated by Dr. Snowden’s report that researchers have found Alzheimer’s structures (plaques and tangles) in the brains of 20-year-olds. These German scientists, Drs. Heiko and Eva Braak, believe that Alzheimer’s Disease may have already begun developing in teenagers. They propose that Alzheimer’s can take 50 years to move from Stage I (few tangles) to Stage V or VI (the most severe brain deterioration). The good news is that by increasing the size of your brain (by using it regularly?) you may be able to compensate for some brain deterioration. The implication of that theory is that half the people you know may already have Alzheimer’s disease, but the symptoms haven’t become severe enough to be recognized. I might have Alzheimer’s myself.

Just another reason not to take your own mind too seriously. Be prepared. Be humble.

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