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New to forum - geriatric nurse

Newcomer introductions, personal anecdotes, caregiver issues, lab results, and n=1 experimentation.
AlexisSchaffer
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New to forum - geriatric nurse

Postby AlexisSchaffer » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:51 am

Hello everyone! My name's Alexis and I'm a geriatric nurse living in North Carolina.

My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's when I was a young girl, perhaps eight or nine, and I saw how badly it affected my family - especially my mom. A few years later I learned that it actually runs in the family and that's why my mom was constantly dieting, exercising, taking supplements, meditating, etc.

This got me really interested in psychology and neurobiology, which led to me majoring in those. After a few years as a research assistant I decided to go back to school for nursing. Currently, I'm a geriatric nurse who works with Alzheimer's/dementia patients.

Of all the patients I have, there are only two behaviors that actually seem to slow the progression of Alzheimer's, as far as I can tell.

1) Staying mentally active
2) Staying socially active

Diet and exercise certainly play a role, but there's strong evidence that even after the gene activation of Alzheimer's, staying mentally and socially active can stop any symptoms from expressing (nun study). It may be that keeping physically healthy lowers your risk of Alzheimer's or perhaps slows the process, but keeping your mind sharp is the only way to stall its progression after a diagnosis.

I don't know if that's valuable for any of you to hear, but I hope it's useful.

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Julie G
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Re: New to forum - geriatric nurse

Postby Julie G » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:12 pm

Welcome Alexis! Thank you for sharing your observations. You've brought up two important strategies, but I suspect that there are others. Combining them seems to have a positive synergistic effect. Were you able to follow any of the news coming out of the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference in LA? Here's a nice summary.

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floramaria
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Re: New to forum - geriatric nurse

Postby floramaria » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:29 pm

AlexisSchaffer wrote:Hello everyone! My name's Alexis and I'm a geriatric nurse living in North Carolina.

My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's when I was a young girl, perhaps eight or nine, and I saw how badly it affected my family - especially my mom. A few years later I learned that it actually runs in the family and that's why my mom was constantly dieting, exercising, taking supplements, meditating, etc.

This got me really interested in psychology and neurobiology, which led to me majoring in those. After a few years as a research assistant I decided to go back to school for nursing. Currently, I'm a geriatric nurse who works with Alzheimer's/dementia patients.

Of all the patients I have, there are only two behaviors that actually seem to slow the progression of Alzheimer's, as far as I can tell.

1) Staying mentally active
2) Staying socially active

Diet and exercise certainly play a role, but there's strong evidence that even after the gene activation of Alzheimer's, staying mentally and socially active can stop any symptoms from expressing (nun study). It may be that keeping physically healthy lowers your risk of Alzheimer's or perhaps slows the process, but keeping your mind sharp is the only way to stall its progression after a diagnosis.

I don't know if that's valuable for any of you to hear, but I hope it's useful.


Welcome, Alexis.

Reading your post made me want to first and foremost thank you for the life path you have chosen by becoming a geriatric nurse. How wonderful that your curiosity led you to this. There is such a need for good geriatric care, and from what you have written about the personal reasons you chose your college majors and then decided to become a geriatric nurse, I imagine that you approach your work with a great deal of compassion. What you experienced as a young girl, seeing your grandmother diminished by Alzheimer's and the toll that took on your family, especially your mom, gives you a deep and heartfelt understanding of the emotional distress family members feel.
I appreciate your sharing the insights you have gained through your work about how important social interactions and staying mentally active are for those who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

You don't mention how your mom fared with her own cognition over time, as she attempted to do what she could to avoid the risk that may have been posed by her genetics. She most likely was not aware of her ApoE4 status, but only knew that AD quite often runs in families. I am impressed that she was proactive, using the best information available at the time to maintain her health, dieting, exercising, taking supplements and meditating. If she was anything like my mom, and it sounds like she was (dieting, exercising, taking supplements), most likely she would have been following a low fat diet. I know my mom did, and she did so thinking she was doing what would be best for her, since she had a strong family history of Alzheimer's. Current studies of ApoE4 indicate that may very well not be the most beneficial food plan for carriers of the ApoE4 allele.

While many individuals on this website are following dietary and exercise programs as part of their attempts to prevent AD, you'll find if you read some of their stories that there are many others who have reversed their symptoms of cognitive impairment by following protocols that include reversing insulin resistance, reducing inflammation, detoxing heavy metals and mold, treating infections, exercising, reducing stress. Many have posted stating that their particular diet has a tremendous impact on their cognition. There is quite a bit of evidence from scientific studies that these factors remain important not only for prevention but also as positive interventions for those who have been diagnosed with AD. .
I invite you to read the Primer, which was written by a physician member.
And I also hope you will continue to share observations both from your work and from your personal experience. We welcome and learn from every viewpoint. Your highlighting the importance of social and mental engagement is a good reminder of the profound effect these have.
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AlexisSchaffer
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Re: New to forum - geriatric nurse

Postby AlexisSchaffer » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:57 pm

Floramaria, thanks for the kind words. My mom hasn't had any expression of Alzheimer's symptoms so far, but she's in her early sixties, so she's still young.

My mom's diet is currently high fat, moderate protein, and low carb diet. She read the book "Grain brain" by David Perlmutter and thought lowering her carb intake would help. Before that she was also on a high carb, low fat diet.

I think that each person responds to different macronutrient profiles differently (probably based partly on race and genealogy). So, high carbs may be good for one person but bad for another - same with fats and proteins. I personally respond very poorly to high fat diets so mine's always been low-moderate fat.

Here's an interesting study on socializing / staying mentally active and it's effects on Alzheimer's progression, if you haven't already read it: https://www.alzheimers.net/1-09-17-what ... lzheimers/

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floramaria
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Re: New to forum - geriatric nurse

Postby floramaria » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:23 pm

AlexisSchaffer wrote:Floramaria, thanks for the kind words. My mom hasn't had any expression of Alzheimer's symptoms so far, but she's in her early sixties, so she's still young.

My mom's diet is currently high fat, moderate protein, and low carb diet. She read the book "Grain brain" by David Perlmutter and thought lowering her carb intake would help. Before that she was also on a high carb, low fat diet.

I think that each person responds to different macronutrient profiles differently (probably based partly on race and genealogy). So, high carbs may be good for one person but bad for another - same with fats and proteins. I personally respond very poorly to high fat diets so mine's always been low-moderate fat.

Here's an interesting study on socializing / staying mentally active and it's effects on Alzheimer's progression, if you haven't already read it: https://www.alzheimers.net/1-09-17-what ... lzheimers/

Thanks for writing back and posting the link to info on Nun Study, Alexis.

I agree with you that individuals respond differently to different macronutrient profiles. There is no one diet that is perfect for everyone, and each person needs to find what works best for him- or herself. That takes openness to experimenting a little and most importantly, listening more to the messages from that unique body than to generalizations. Knowing what works for you, as you do, is crucial.

I am really happy to hear that your mom is doing well. "Grain Brain" has been a guide to many people, opening their eyes to a different possible way of eating, and if it has been helpful to your mom, that's excellent. Even though she was a "health enthusiast", own mom didn't have access to anything like that. She followed an extremely low fat to no fat diet, which a book she had read told her was a healthy diet. But maybe not for her, which goes back to your point that there isn't a one-size-fits-all best diet. I often wonder if she would have done better if she had read a book like "Grain Brain" but will never get to know since she passed away a decade ago. She was already showing signs of problems with cognition in her early 60's, though we didn't really recognize that at the time. So your mom's not having any symptoms is good news.

Today I am on this site alot, so I happened to see that you had replied to my message. If you want to be sure that someone finds out that you replied to them, incorporating some or all of that person's post triggers their getting a notification that they have been quoted.
You do that by clicking on the quotation marks in the upper right hand of the post you are replying to. Tips on how to do this and other useful tidbits for navigating the site are at
[b][color=#00BF00] How-ToGet the most out of the ApoE4.info website. It is a user-friendly resource that explains how to quote people so they see your replies, how to search topics, how to subscribe to forums of high interest and how to send Private Messages.
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AlexisSchaffer
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Re: New to forum - geriatric nurse

Postby AlexisSchaffer » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:08 pm

floramaria wrote:Today I am on this site alot, so I happened to see that you had replied to my message. If you want to be sure that someone finds out that you replied to them, incorporating some or all of that person's post triggers their getting a notification that they have been quoted.
You do that by clicking on the quotation marks in the upper right hand of the post you are replying to. Tips on how to do this and other useful tidbits for navigating the site are at
[b][color=#00BF00] How-ToGet the most out of the ApoE4.info website. It is a user-friendly resource that explains how to quote people so they see your replies, how to search topics, how to subscribe to forums of high interest and how to send Private Messages.


Thank you! I wasn't aware of that. You've been really helpful!

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floramaria
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Re: New to forum - geriatric nurse

Postby floramaria » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:10 pm

AlexisSchaffer wrote:
Thank you! I wasn't aware of that. You've been really helpful!

you're welcome!
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thjj
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Re: New to forum - geriatric nurse

Postby thjj » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:32 pm

fantastic getting this information from a geriatric nurse.
· • She/her · • ·
ApoE4/4 status known: 2018 | Born: 1969 | Cognitive Impairment: none


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