We have choices and we must take all of them into account explains Rona Cant

In the last issue, I wrote about my diagnosis of having early onset Alzheimer’s after numerous hospital visits and tests. I must admit that in the frame of mind I was in it was hard for me to keep abreast of what was happening and what the results might be. It was scary, and I felt as if I was in a fog.  Suddenly, it was all over, all the tests had been completed and I was left in a vacuum as I was expecting yet another appointment and there had been no mention at all that this was the final test.

But, as you know, it is very topical at this moment in time, so Kathleen has asked me to write about how to avoid it.  Kathleen, in future can you come up with the ideas before I get the prognosis?  It would be so much more convenient for me!

My attitude is that I do not have it and I am living my life as I had always planned.

I have always spent my life learning and challenging myself. Over the years I have run three different businesses. The first was when I lived in London and had not long had my children, so I decided to make curtains for people. I then moved from London to Oxford where I did various courses and studied for a degree at the same time as my children were studying for their degrees.

Someone suggested that I might enjoy sailing, so I took all my exams and was interviewed by Chay Blyth to be crew on the BT Global Challenge Round the World Yacht Race in the year 2000.  I was placed on Save the Children boat which was sponsored by a great company called Serco. They paid £1 million to sponsor the yacht but their name was not visible on it at all – what a great attitude. In fact, after the Race I wrote a book about it called ‘A Challenge too Far?’ and Chay was nice enough to write the Foreword for it.

After the Yacht Race I went on to trek the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, one of the hardest trails in the world. I followed this by doing a dog-sled trail for charity which led to me talking to the guy who led that trail and saying that I would love to do something longer and harder. Yes, you have guessed it, we opened a ‘thought to be impossible’ trail to the northernmost tip of Europe. So, I then wrote a book about that trail.

I only tell you this to show that I have done what the medical profession say is the right thing to do – keep testing yourself, keep learning, stay active. I did everything that the ‘powers that be’ say we should be doing in order not to get Alzheimer’s except for one thing and that could be the problem. We can continue to learn, we can stay active, we can keep fit, but how often do we grab a sandwich when we are in hurry, or miss a meal, or eat the wrong sort of food? We have choices and we must take all of them into account.

There are many websites which list activities that can help prevent dementia, but the one I find most useful is from the vida blog (https://vida.co.uk/blog/10-activities-to-help-prevent-dementia/).  I have listed the headlines below:-

  1. Eat Healthy / Lifestyle choices
  2. Regular Exercise
  3. Walking
  4. Learn to de-stress /learn to breathe /make time for fun
  5. Be Social
  6. Learn a new skill
  7. Learn to play an instrument
  8. Play, laugh and have fun
  9. Cognitive exercises
  10. Get quality sleep

Please follow the link for full details.

For information on associations in your country that can help with Alzheimer’s, Alzheimer’s Disease International provides a list – https://www.alz.co.uk/associations. In the UK, The Alzheimer’s Society is a great source of information – https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/

So, eat well, exercise, socialise, keep positive, and have fun!

Rona Cant is an explorer, international speaker and author. Once an unexceptional, middle-aged single parent she became a round-the-world yachtswoman by competing in the BT Global Challenge Round the World Yacht Race (the toughest yacht race in the world ... (Read More)

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