Shedding some light on the subject of dementia

In light of the summer solstice marking the official start of the summer season, and the day with the most amount of sunlight, I thought it would be appropriate to write a post about vitamin D – also known as the sunshine vitamin.finishing_well-in-life-VitD

Science Daily reports that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in older people. This was the most robust study of its kind ever conducted. An international team found that the study participants who were severely vitamin D deficient were more than twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Also, a study published in  Neurology®, found that people with low levels of vitamin D had a 53 percent increased risk of developing dementia and those who were severely deficient had a 125 percent increased risk (that’s huge!) compared to participants with normal levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D comes from three main sources: exposure of skin to sunlight, foods, and supplements. Since older people’s skin can be less efficient at converting sunlight into Vitamin D, making them more likely to be deficient and reliant on other sources.  Care must also be taken to limit exposure due to the risk of skin cancer.

In my case, sunlight can be a problem. In fact, I love to garden, but refer to myself as a shade plant, so I try to get enough vitamin D from supplements and food.

Thankfully, a seven-year study in France concluded that higher vitamin D dietary intake was also associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

According to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, (Office of Dietary Supplements) among the best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel. Other foods that provide small amounts of vitamin D include; beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms. Additionally, nearly all milk and many breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D.

Increasing our vitamin D intake is an easy way to help reduce the risk of dementia, so whether you are a sun flower or a shade plant, be sure to get enough of the sunshine vitamin.

The wheels on the bus go round and round

As some folks mature, they begin to look at life as a series of sunsets. However, those who finish well tend to look instead at life as a series of sunrises. Clair Morey looks at every day as a sunrise – not a sunset.

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Clair Morey in front of one of the Mount Lassen Motor Transit buses.

Clair spent most of his life as a bus driver. First, as a school bus driver, and then 35 years as a tour bus driver for the  Mount Lassen Motor Transit.  He loved it! He would do the driving, and his wife, Bernice would go along as the Hostess. They went everywhere: National Parks, attractions, wonders and world fairs.

Then one day it happened.

After his 80th birthday, he received word that he could no longer drive. Insurance would no longer cover him. This sadness was added to the grief from losing the love of his life. His lovely Bernice had passed away.

At that point, the future for him is bleak – there is nothing left for him but a series of sunsets.

But Clair is not done yet. So instead of ending the race, he makes a decision that he’s going to create his own rules and continue on in the busing industry. After some time off, he is now working both in the office and the open road. In the winter, he plans and packages tours. In the summer, he reaps the rewards of those tours by working as the Host.

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Clair and Janice Morey on a recent bus trip the Lewiston Peddler’s Fair

He also offers mentorship and advice to the new drivers…his knowledge base is significant. Everyone benefits, everyone wins.  Lightning struck twice when he found a new love of his life and got remarried. Her name is Janice, she is an avid tour bus rider – they actually met on the bus.

I got the chance to visit with Clair on a bus tour to the Lewiston Peddler’s Fair. I was amazed to learn about all the different places he has been, such as Reno, The Rose Parade, and Branson, Missouri. He said that Branson was the longest trip. It was 25 days long and lots of fun. He told me that he really enjoyed the longer trips because you really get to know the passengers better- that they become like a family. He said that they have many long-term friendships with folks who have taken bus tours over the years.

At 87 he is still going strong, still going down the road, still providing insight and humor on the trips. Only now he’s doing it from the passenger seat. He’s a very vital part of the busing industry and to this date has not considered retirement.

Don’t let life dictate to you how you run the race. Finish well.



Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and finishingwell-3Dcovertips about doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.

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Curry some goodness

I love it when a study comes out that touts the benefits of a food I love. As you might guess from the title of this post, today’s topic is curry. Turns out that curry has some secrets hidden in all it’s yellow goodness.

A new trial by Australian scientists suggests that eating curry on a weekly basis may keep dementia at bay as we age.

Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the study identifies yellow spice turmeric, which contains curcumin – an ingredient used in many curry dishes. It is thought that the curcumin blocks rogue proteins called beta amyloid, which clump together and destroy neurons.

Curry is a dietary staple in India, a country where the rate of Alzheimer’s disease is among the world’s lowest.

According to a story posted by WebMD, researchers say curry’s powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it a very attractive possibility for treating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease.

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My husband and I had learned about the possible benefits of turmeric, so we began the practice of eating a spoonful of mustard, (which contains turmeric) each day. I love mustard, so it wasn’t a problem, but my husband thought it might be nice to see if perhaps it came in pill form. Fortunately, it does!

In light of this finding, we recently went to one of our favorite Thai restaurants to order some yummy, curry-laden dishes. When the food arrived, the waitress asked if I would like some chopsticks. I was feeling adventurous, and (while retaining my fork) I said, “Yes”.

I quickly discovered another brain sharpening feature of eating curry: Using chopsticks. Since I’m not very good with them, it is a good neurobic exercise for me.  Neurobic exercises in a nutshell are: Doing the ordinary things in new, surprising and unexpected ways.

I wrote about neurobics in a previous post: “Upside Down and Backwards”     Of course, if you are already handy with chopsticks, it may not be that helpful for you, but still fun nevertheless.

If you really want to get a wonderful, dementia bashing benefit from eating curry, then here’s one more tip. Grab a friend – or several to join you for dinner. Studies show that social engagement – talking, laughing and sharing with others is good for your brain.

Are you beginning to feel hungry? Why not make a plan to ‘curry’ some goodness in the near future.