Every one of us has someone in our families or knows someone who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s-related memory loss. As each of you lives with someone who has these illnesses, just remember these two Scriptures — 1 Corinthians 13:7 (“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”) and Psalm 46:1 (“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”).
This weekend, you will have the chance to learn more on this topic by watching a true-to-life stage play titled “Give Your Parents a Standing Ovation” at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts in Bowie, Maryland. The two showtimes are Saturday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
This exciting play, directed by Bruce Odams (BK Productions), is the brainchild of Dr. Gybrilla Ballard-Blakes, who is bringing the production back to Bowie Center for the fifth time. Back by popular demand, with an outstanding cast, the play includes lively scenes, music, laughter and tears. It features an educational but entertaining component, as it depicts a family that overcomes the challenges of dealing with a loved one living with Alzheimer’s and all of its symptoms.
Tickets are on sale now and are $35 in advance, $40 at the door and $25 with the seniors discount. Tickets can be purchased online at www.gypaso.org.
Research from NIH shows the relationship between sleep in midlife and dementia in late life is important not only from a clinical perspective, but also from a scientific one. It had always been a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem when trying to interpret the relationship between poor sleep and dementia. Was it really poor sleep that caused dementia, or just early dementia symptoms causing poor sleep? By looking at individuals who were initially studied in midlife — some as young as age 50 — we now have greater certainty that poor sleep can increase one’s risk of developing dementia 20 years or more in the future.
Lack of sleep in middle age may increase dementia risk, according to the National Institutes of Health. In one study, researchers at Harvard Medical School observed more than 2,800 participants ages 65 and older to examine the relationship between their self-reported sleep characteristics in 2013 or 2014, and their development of dementia and/or dementia-related death five years later. Researchers found that individuals who slept fewer than five hours per night were twice as likely to develop dementia and twice as likely to die from the disease, compared to those who slept six to eight hours per night. This study controlled for demographic characteristics including age, marital status, race, education, health conditions and body weight.
In another study, researchers in Europe (including France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Finland) examined data from almost 8,000 participants from a different study and found that consistently sleeping six hours or less at ages 50, 60 and 70 was associated with a 30% increase in dementia risk, compared to a normal sleep duration of seven hours. The mean age of dementia diagnosis was 77 years. This study controlled for sociodemographic, behavioral, cardio-metabolic and mental health factors, although most participants were white, more educated and healthier than the general population. In addition, approximately half of the participants had their sleep duration measured objectively using a wearable accelerometer — a device that tracked their sleep using body movements — which confirmed the questionnaire data.
These studies showed how inadequate sleep in midlife may lead to dementia. What’s new here is that inadequate sleep in midlife raises one’s risk of dementia. There are many reasons for poor sleep in middle age — shift work, insomnia, caretaking responsibilities, anxiety and pressing deadlines, just to name a few. Although not all of these are controllable, some are. For example, if you’re currently only sleeping four to five hours because you’re up late working every night, you might want to change your habits, otherwise you risk developing dementia by the time you retire!
To quote the Alzheimer’s Society in the United Kingdom, “It is possible to have a good quality of life with dementia.”
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email email@example.com or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.