Don & Jerry
Don Reddington and Jerry Bristol at the Bristols’ home discussing the first chapter of Living with Alzheimer’s. Photo credit Laurelle Walsh/Methow Valley News.

This is the second installment of a series of articles published by Methow Valley resident Don Reddington which will explore the issues of living with Alzheimer’s Disease. The articles were written in collaboration with Raleigh Bowden, M.D., and Methow Valley News reporter Laurelle Walsh and originally published in the Methow Valley News. Read the entire series “Living with Alzheimer’s”.

Lifestyle choices related to diet, vitamin supplements, and exercise have reduced the risk of many diseases. Could they also slow down the effects of AD? Research studies to identify factors that affect the risk of AD are being developed. What can be done today?

In our lifetimes, Jerry and I have always gotten a lot of satisfaction and happiness from helping others. We will continue this year to help others with AD by writing about the disease from our perspectives.

We  know there are no medically proven ways to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s, but we believe that lifestyle and home remedies have affected our AD by slowing down the process. We also believe that they help us have a positive outlook for our remaining life.

Lifestyle and home remedies that we have tried include the following:

  1. Positive attitude: When Jerry and I found out that we have AD, we experienced a whole change of life! Jerry and I are going to go from an adult to living like a child. We don’t think about this or other bad things. Jerry and I just want to get on with our lives and have a positive outlook. Both of us are grateful for the life that we had and for the life that we have lived so far. Jerry and I accept that we have a disease that there is no cure for.  However, hopefully we can slow it down!
  2. A sense of humor: Jerry and I feel that it is better to enjoy life rather than be mad about our illness and changes in lifestyle. Even though getting the disease is unfair, we try to ignore the negative things people say about it. Our advice is not to argue with people as it is too stressful. Reducing stress, simplifying life, and trying not to overextend on commitments all help us stay positive. Jerry and I will maintain our sense of humor and activities so we will enjoy our remaining life on earth!
  3. Exercising: Jerry and I have always been physically active and we really believe that this makes a big difference in our lives. Some data supports that exercise may be the one thing that can really slow AD down. Jerry gets his exercise from hiking in low country, snowshoeing, yoga, and exercise classes twice a week at the Grange (thanks SAIL – Stay Active and Independent for Life). I do floor exercises 4 to 5 times a week (thanks Pete Dickinson); cross country skiing 3-4 times a week (thanks Don Portman); downhill skiing at Loup Loup Ski Bowl when possible with my “adopted dad” (thanks Bob Ulrich); mountain biking 4 to 5 times a week (thanks Joe and Julie); grouse and chukar hunting with my hunting dogs; and riding my horse up the high trails and backcountry (thanks Ginger).
  4. Staying active: Jerry and I both spend a lot of time gardening. Gardening gives us work to do that helps keep our brains functioning. Jerry and I both volunteered to help at the recycle center until it was no longer possible. I take doing the dishes seriously (thanks Ginger)! I find for myself that I have to think ahead about what I am going to do next or I do the wrong things. In the beginning of AD, I got to laying something down, and then I would not remember where it was. My new strategy is to try put things away right away. It has helped greatly!

Follow our blog for part 2 of Preventative Strategies later this week.

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