Banks County Opinions...

JUNE 9, 2004


Column

By:Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
June 9, 2004

Time to tackle Alzheimer’s
As the nation mourns the death of President Reagan, the public, and the media in particular, are taking a closer look at the debilitating disease that killed him: Alzheimer’s.
We can create babies in petri dishes and clone sheep, but doctors still don’t know much about Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, it can only be diagnosed conclusively when a person is dead and the clumps of plaque and fibrous tangles of misplaced proteins are evidenced in the brain tissue at autopsy. Doctors are working on drugs to prevent the proteins from gathering, but, even if they succeed, it may not stop the disease because doctors aren’t certain if the protein buildup is the cause of the disease or a byproduct. What the doctors do know and can agree on hardly fills a newspaper page. Age is the most serious risk factor: the number of people with Alzheimer’s doubles every five years after age 65 and by age 85, 50 percent of people are afflicted. Those kind of odds are about the biggest kick in the pants I can imagine. Eat right, exercise, be healthy; spend 85 years doing everything by the book. You feel like you’re in the home stretch—you’ve beaten cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease, and you’re looking forward to easy retirement with your spouse and grandkids playing around you—then you find out you’re the 1 out of 2 people who are afflicted with Alzheimer’s.
Gradually you forget who these kids are and who your spouse is and who you are until the proteins move from feeding on your memory to feed on parts of the brain that control essential body systems, and then you’re dead. The decline can be gradual lasting nearly 20 years or quick lasting only 3. Honestly, I’d go straight from an Alzheimer’s diagnosis to eating Big Mac’s and slurping triple thick shakes. Pump those arteries full and cease and desist all maintenance medication. Bring on the heart attack.
Doctors know that a having a parent or sibling with the disease increases a person’s chance of getting the disease. So does having had a severe head injury that resulted in a loss of consciousness at any point in their life. However, the use of Aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal) does not affect a person’s risk and most researchers also agree that drinking from aluminum cans or using aluminum cookware also does not increase a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s.
A study begun in 1995 that was released in January found that high daily doses of Vitamins C and E decrease a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The study’s participants, all over age 65, took Vitamins C supplements of 500-1,000 micrograms and E supplements of 1,000 international units together (not in a multi-vitamin where the levels of these two vitamins is much lower; the daily requirement for C is 75-90 micrograms and for E is 22 international units). At the study’s conclusion, participants were 64 percent less likely to have developed Alzheimer’s. Researchers believe the vitamins’ anti-oxidant properties may offset the buildup of free radicals that in turn damage cells and lead to the brain disease.
There are five medications developed to help Alzheimer’s patients. These drugs do not slow the progression of the disease, they temporarily improve or stabilize memory and thinking in some. Today 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s. That is roughly the population of Louisiana (census.gov). By 2050, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates 16 million people will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s. I could be one of them. We all could. Double the population of Georgia today and you also get roughly 16 million.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.

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Column

By: Angela Gary
The Banks County News
June 9, 2004

Two kinds of vacations
There are two kinds of vacations. You can go on a trip that involves racing from one event to the next or you can plan a trip that involves long naps in the sun and leisurely strolls along the beach.
I love both kinds of trips. One of my favorite trips was a seven day cruise last year that included sleeping late in the morning, lazing on the deck, grazing at the midnight buffet and afternoon naps. I told my friend I was going to check out the bingo game, with the $1,000 grand prize, one afternoon only to sleep through the entire event.
Another vacation I take each year is quite different and includes a fast-paced schedule that leaves me exhausted. This vacation is actually much more exhausting than work, but I love it and will be on my third visit when the paper comes out this week.
Fan Fair in Nashville, Tenn., now known as the CMA Music Festival, will kick off Thursday with 200 artists appearing for concerts and/or autograph and photo sessions with the fans. Prior to that, other special events, including fan club parties and charity events, are planned. More than 100,000 people from all across the United States and surrounding countries attend this annual event.
I was making my schedule for each day over this past weekend and I actually got kind of weary looking at it. It starts with Brad Paisley’s fan club party Tuesday afternoon and ends with a three-hour concert Saturday night. Included in the whirlwind week will be Phil Vassar’s fan club party, the celebrity charity softball game, the taping of a two-hour CMT concert on the top 12 love songs of country music, a CMA yard sale, a charity auction with Martina McBride, afternoon concerts on the banks of the Cumberland River, nightly concerts at the coliseum and mornings in the convention center for photo and autograph sessions with the stars. See, it’s tiring to just read over the list.
Fan Fair is really for the dedicated (or crazy) country music fan. It’s really hot, you always get wet in at least one unexpected rain storm, you walk a lot and you wait in line a lot. There’s also little sleep or rest. No matter how tired I am, I always contact the tour agency we use, Grayline of Nashville, and start paying on next year’s trip at least six months in advance.
I’ll tell you all about this year’s trip when I return. There’s always a few adventures I don’t plan on. Of course, I’ll need a few days of sleep before I can even remember what all I did. I’ll also need to plan one of those vacations where I sleep the days away.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.


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