I’m taking a pause in the middle of a long walk with Siggi to reflect. Ever since I started working in a memory care unit as a caregiver, I’ve become way more aware of the seriousness of dementia. Before this job, I only had the slightest idea what dementia and Alzheimer’s were and the devastation they brought on the resident and their families. After working at the facility however, I realize what a heartbreaking and challenging disease it can be.
I’ve begun to read and learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia and how lifestyle can affect it. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and that number seems to only be getting greater. There are over 5 million people in the US currently with Alzheimer’s. In 2050, this number is expected to triple! These are scary numbers… However, I also learned that there are ways that we can lower our chances of getting the disease.
One thing that I found intriguing is on the Greek island of Icaria, a known Blue Zone, the dementia rate is about a quarter of that in America. These people live low key lives that are social, active (the elderly walk up hills daily), nearly vegan (with very low amounts of dairy, meat and sugar), have a purpose in life, and have a strong sense of community. Dan Buettner wrote The Blue Zones Solution, which is a book that points a light on various areas around the world where people are living longer, more active and healthier lives than those of the rest of the world, and how we can incorporate that into our own lives. I haven’t read his book yet – my nana is letting me borrow it from her this weekend! However, even after just reading a few interviews and articles about the blue zones, I’m sold. There’s no fancy supplements, no pills, no crazy work out regimes – god knows I’ve done enough of those! Just moving naturally and actively everyday, eating healthy veg-heavy meals, and connecting with people with a sense of community.
Even in the last few days, I’ve noticed a shift in myself. I’ve been spending my free time before and after work, or my days off, going out with my dog on long walks or River trips. I’ve been more present in my interactions with family, friends, coworkers and people I encounter throughout the day. I’ve also upped my veggies and fruits, and cut back on sugar and processed foods. Really, the whole point is to honor yourself and your body, in the most simple and natural way. It’s an amazing and inspiring feeling living in this way. I don’t feel as stressed and I’m really enjoying myself. Now, back to walking!!