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The Vigorous, Active Mind will avoid Alzheimer's - A Myth and a cruel Hoax


There is a current prevailing notion that if we have very active, vigorous minds and mentalities that we can avoid becoming victims of Alzheimer’s disease. This thinking suggests activities to stimulate and work the brain and thereby prevent our coming down with Alzheimer’s. This idea and theory is an insult to my wife June and every other Alzheimer’s victim by suggesting that they sat around vegetating until they developed Alzheimer’s. Frequently the saying “Use it or Lose it” is heard as a justifying argument. ”Use it or Lose it” is valid as long as we are talking about body muscle and joint functions.


The brain is not a muscle or a joint. The brain is said to be made up of 100 billion brain cells called neurons. The neurons are inter connected by an estimated 100 trillion connecting synapses referred to as a neuron forest. It is said that the mind functions by signals traveling through the neuron forest. The signals form the basis of our thoughts, memories and feelings. The signals are thought to move through the neurons and synapses by way of tiny electrical charges and tiny bursts of chemicals. (Neurotransmitters). Alzheimer’s is thought to interfere with or disrupt this movement by forming both plaques of Beta Amyloid protein on the brain and tangles of a protein Tau. These formations result in the death of the brain cells and destruction of the connecting synapses. With the death of the neurons the brain slowly shrinks in size. There are no muscles or joints to move, the movement is all electro and chemical.


 If we are to look at the ranks of the victims, we will find that many are/were persons of razor sharp mentality and intellect. Person’s who used their brains vigorously during their lifetimes prior to developing Alzheimer’s. These many examples effectively put a lie to the notion that one can avoid Alzheimer’s by simply vigorously utilizing one’s brain on a daily basis.  Many of the victims were individuals who depended on their mind, their brain and intellect to conduct their profession. Many were in the arts. Many were prominent statesman and political figures. Here is a listing of a few of the many well known personalities who have been struck down by this dreaded disease. - Abe Burrows (Actor), Perry Como (Singer), Aaron Copland (Composer), Thomas Dorsey (Song Writer), Arlen Francis (Actor), Ralph Waldo Emerson (Poet), Barry Goldwater (Senator), Rita Hayworth (Actor), Raul Silva Henriquez (Roman Catholic Cardinal), Charlton Heston (Actor and Political Activist), Burgess Meredith (Actor), Edmond O’Brien (Actor), Otto Preminger (Director), Ronald Reagan (40th US President), Norman Rockwell (Artist), Margaret Thatcher (British Prime Minister), Harold Wilson (another British Prime Minister). Sport Stars are also among the victims. Joe Adcock (Baseball Player), Sugar Ray Robinson (Boxer) and Betty Schwartz (Olympic Gold Medal Winner in Track). Half of all of the service men from WWII who are still living  (The Greatest Generation) are rapidly traveling into the shadows of Alzheimer’s. My wife June K. Berg, who was one of the brightest, most active and alert people I have ever known, is now in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. . This “use it or lose it” mentality and thinking results in a myth, and a cruel hoax by its implications.

Even Mayo Clinic is one of the promoters of this theory. In their publication “Age of Wellness,” Summer 2007, much space is devoted to this subject. Dr. David Knopman in an article on Lifestyle Habits in preventing Alzheimer’s Disease”, after discussing “Eat Healthy, Exercise Regularly, and Stay Mentally Active!” ends the article with the following admission....”The reality is that the information we have doesn’t really answer the question whether any of these behaviors (diet, exercise, or stimulating leisure activities) alone serve to protect the brain from AD.” While many of the recommended life style changes are recommendations of good common sense and can only be overall beneficial for the mind and body, they certainly will not prevent or turn aside a relentless Alzheimer’s disease.

Our focus needs to be on finding a cure and not deluding ourselves into thinking we can make simple changes in our life styles to prevent this terrible disease. Our energies and financial resources need to be concentrated on finding a cure and not wasted or diluted “tilting with windmills” in the pursuit of a means of prevention by simplistic methods.


(The below right photo is June Berg in San Francisco one month after her diagnosis in 1998.)


June K. Berg in San Francisco 1998


When my wife June Berg was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in January of 1998, we were told that much research was underway and that a “cure” would probably be available in 5-10 years. We are now at a point of over 10 years later and we are no closer to a cure than we were in 1998. While we have become more sophisticated at diagnosing Alzheimer’s than we were 10 years ago, nothing solid has been done on finding a cure. We are running in several different directions with little in the way of positive results to show for our efforts. Meanwhile my wife June has traveled deep into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and is the final stages of this disease. Inadequate research funding is the problem that is standing in the way of finding an early cure. Adequate funding for research is the key to such a cure. In any event when the cure is found, it will be too late to help June.


Please see the Blog above – A Crisis in Funding for Alzheimer’s Research.”





Comments (1)
active mind will avoid alzheimers
1Thursday, 11 September 2008 04:29
Mary M Thelen

So NOT true. Jim was more acitive than you can imagine.. diag June2007 and admitted to AD unit October 2007... a great cover up by him and myself also! Summary: sold our business in 1999; schoolbus drivers were needed so he did that... very acitve in the community, and on the American Legion he was active on the Post, District, Dept. and National level.. we both attended all conferences, local, state and National for the past 9 years... I actually took him to Reno, August 2007- he had 3 things he wanted to do last summer and that was one... not an easy task, but we did it.. coming home from wherever we went was more than a challenge, unti I knew more about AD I did not know what was going on... anyway- he is or was a man in control all of his life... and was physically fit also. We had a great life... and now it is snuffed away... I still cannot believe what has happened.. my father and grandfather died of AD..I was supposed to get it...not Jim!

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