Misleading media articles or am I just a bit sensitive?!?!

Discussion in 'Dementia-related news and campaigns' started by Max68, Dec 1, 2019 at 10:43 AM.

  1. Max68

    Max68 Registered User

    Aug 21, 2018
    In a national newspaper this week I read an article that suggested that doing puzzles, brain teasers and reading is helpful in warding off dementia.

    I nearly spat out my coffee whilst reading it as mum did all those things and more as mere hobbies before dementia took hold. She worked as an engineer and designed the windows on Concorde, was a top class mathematician who worked alongside Barnes Wallis of Dam busters fame, played golf for many years daily and took on daily crosswords, sudoku and read a book a week, and yet none of that stopped her getting vascular dementia.

    Of course I guess you could argue that she was 83 when diagnosed so therefore mental and physical exercise "could" have kept it at bay for years prior, but the way the article was written it was this typical modern day forced way of saying "If you do this you won't get this!" and I found it a tad misleading.

    So are some media articles unhelpful or am I a tad sensitive?!
  2. Palerider

    Palerider Registered User

    Aug 9, 2015
    North West
    No your not sensitive, a lot of stuff published in the press is rubbish, not based on fact and often scare mongering too. Its true to say that keeping active and doing things to keep our brains ticking over can help for a while, but dementia is a physical disease that destroys the brain eventually and no amount of soduko, golf or anything will stop it.

    Mum wasn't an engineer, but she was always active, did puzzle books and many things as well as memory excercises when she was diagnosed, none of which stopped progression.

    I wonder if writing a letter back to the newspaper asking them why they think the Alzheimer's Society exists might be useful??
  3. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    I agree - it is very misleading.
    I also worry that it could lead to general feeling among the population that if you get dementia it must be your own fault because you didnt keep your brain active :mad:
  4. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hello @Max68

    I know how you feel but even the Alzheimer`s Society recommends similar strategies to reduce our risk of dementia.


    It doesn`t mean it`s sure fired dementia prevention but does suggest healthy living is a way to try to avoid it.

    I see Jonathan Miller died this week. He was a high flyer if ever there was one but had Alzheimer`s. I know his mother had dementia too because her death was announced about the time my husband was diagnosed.

    While no one knows the actual causes all we can do is live as healthy a life as possible. That is common sense. It is annoying to read of so called prevention techniques I know but while people are trying to find causes and a cure we can`t blame them for trying.
  5. Dimpsy

    Dimpsy Registered User

    Sep 2, 2019
    What a load of bunkum!
    My mum (89 & AZ) still does word searches, puzzles and prolific reader DESPITE having dementia,.
    I don't think staying mentally active either prevents or causes dementia.
    Dementia just is.
  6. kindred

    kindred Registered User

    Apr 8, 2018
    Oh Exactly, canary, exactly. I think that as dementia is so so feared, folk need to superstitiously believe there are things to do, foods to eat etc that can hold it at bay. I wish. warmest, thank you.
    Geraldine aka kindred.
  7. Max68

    Max68 Registered User

    Aug 21, 2018
    Agree with all. Part of the reason why I am so sceptical in all this sort of stuff is what happened to myself. I have Type 2 Diabetes although right on the borderline. They like you to have an HBA1C of under 48 ideally. Mine had crept up a tad so I had three months of really being careful and eating well and doing all the right things. Went for my blood test really hopeful and yet it had risen to 64. I was gobsmacked so next three months I went back to my bad sweets, take away and egg and chips diet!! Three months later took another blood test and it had dropped to 46!! The GP couldn't understand it and admitted that scientists would be baffled!!! Since then it's been between 44 and 49 for the last three years although got another one this week so I'll probably be retracting this!!!!

    Therefore whilst some could argue that healthy living can help with medical conditions why is it that some smokers, drinkers or bad eaters never get ill but someone who has never done any of that will. I think it's just a lottery and genetics are the main culprit. Mum's sister had vascular dementia and her mother died of a heart attack inn her 60's.

    One thing I would like to see though study wise is the relationship between dementia and intelligence. In mum's home a lot of the residents were really clued up people with jobs that required a high level of intelligence and one particular resident was a leading Doctor in the dementia field, which is really sad as he awfully knew what was coming.
  8. Chrissie B

    Chrissie B Registered User

    Jan 15, 2019
    North Yorkshire
    I think the operative words here are "try and avoid it"
    My mother was diagnosed when she was 86 years old. That doesn't mean she suddenly had Alzheimer's at 86 years old, it means that's when she decided to get tested.
    She used to do the Sun duel cryptic crossword books, cheated lots by looking up the answers on the back pages, watched all the soaps and read huge amounts of books, detective ones, and all the Cynthia Harrod Eagles books as soon as they came out.

    She also had a hobby of drinking wine, and would swear that it was medically reported in German tabloid that everyone should drink at least one glass a day of good quality red wine in order to live longer, and you never know Max, she could well be right, because she's definitely been going down quickly over the last couple of years since she's given up on her at least one a day glass of wine, plus her glass of gin and her weekly glass of whiskey, which doesn't include the whiskey she had with her tea just to keep her warm. She is living proof that lack of alcohol was the demise of her health, and had nothing to do with her reaching 94 years old when her health started to plummet suddenly.
    She would travel all the time, even well after she was diagnosed, and would usually walk for about an hour every day if the weather was remotely warm enough, and sometimes when it wasn't. Her hobbies included using her bus pass so she could travel for free, even if it was a case of spending all day on the bus to visit my sister and brothers. She still tries to read all the time, but fails because turning a page has become too difficult for her as she loses her place. She reads out loud, quite often I can hear her try to pronounce names of the people who the book is dedicated to, and if I turn the page, she gets very cross, because I have lost her place and she gives up.
    My mother has a friend who is only 1 year younger than her, who has no signs of Dementia whatsoever. She rarely reads, never does crosswords and her main obsession has always been keeping her house incredibly clean and tidy. One speck of dust on the mantelpiece, and she would hoover and dust and clean the house from top to bottom. You could walk into her house at any time, and the place always looked like a show house. When she reached 90 years old she employed a cleaner to come in once a week, and accused one cleaner of not doing the job properly because her ornaments were put back in the exact place. This was her only proof, because she would never have any dust anywhere in her house before it was dusted. Perhaps we should be studying more people with OCD.
  9. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    And my husband still plays bridge and has absolutely no problems with maths. We do crosswords together but he has never come to grips with sudoku.

    His geriatrician always uses the phrase 'Use it or lose it'. I think he is a little mystified by OH's form of dementia.

    His mother had Alzheimer's but his behaviour and hers are completely different. His siblings have problems with short term memory, again the opposite to OH.

    And then there are those rare people who have never shown any evidence of Alzheimer's but autopsy shows the tangles and other evidence that they had the disease.

    Genes? I feel sure some of it is but is it as direct inheritance or combined with other things? My mother died age 45 from heart disease, father at age 72 from heart disease. I am the youngest of five, all still alive and the oldest is almost 86, ten years older me. No heart diease yet! No dementia yet!

    Max68 is interested in connections between intelligence and dementia. My siblings were civil engineers, electrical engineer who led the construction of of the TV system in Papua New Guinea and was invited to become head of Communications for Australia but couldn't stand the thought of moving to Sydney. One was an aircraft surveyor and two of us were teachers. One plays classical guitar, another writes bush poetry and runs a U3A course. Still no dementia.

    Of course health professionals are going to tell you to eat well, get plenty of exercise, do puzzles, learn a language. Can't imagine they'd tell you to eat chocolate, drink wine and slob around the couch all,day.

    I have given up reading stuff like that and hate seeing those TV segments which promise a new treatment for Alzheimer's which of course won't be available for at least ten years. Why do they do that?
  10. notsogooddtr

    notsogooddtr Registered User

    Jul 2, 2011
    I felt the same way about the 'battle cancer,be positive message'when my sister was I'll.She died of secondary breast cancer at 45.Secondaries where in her brain and spinal fluid,by the time she died she was unable to walk or speak and was incontinent.She had 2 little girls.So the implication that she hadn't 'battled' hard enough was incredibly hard to swallow.Sorry to go off topic here but I do know what you mean.Obviously it's best to keep ourselves as healthy as possible but I think genes and environment as well as socio-economic factors are very significant
  11. Jaded'n'faded

    Jaded'n'faded Registered User

    Jan 23, 2019
    High Peak
    I think there is also a problem with attributing cause and effect. There's no point really in saying, 'my PWD was a genius and did puzzles everyday but he still got dementia, so there is no link to intelligence.' There are just too many factors involved - known and unknown - to draw that conclusion.

    Analogy: a soldier standing to attention on a sunny day suddenly faints - at the exact moment a magpie flies over his head. Did the magpie cause the soldier to faint? Perhaps he'd just been standing in the sun too long and was overheated. Or maybe dehydrated. Or maybe fumes from the hot tarmac were to blame? Or perhaps the soldier had an underlying medical condition. Or maybe he'd missed breakfast that morning or had a heavy drinking session the night before.

    The point is we don't know. The reason could be one, some, all or none of the above. Even careful analysis of the situation afterwards may not provide any 'proof', neither will it tell us how other soldiers can prevent fainting in the future.

    My money's on the magpie...
  12. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    The article is just part of the general lack of understanding in the media of most health issues and is along the same lines as "eat broccoli every day to avoid cancer". I suppose the benefit is that people think that eating broccoli and doing crosswords means they are 'doing something' to stave off ill health. The disbenefit is that when they get ill, they think it is their fault, and that they didn't do enough of whatever it was. The broccoli and crosswords are just amulets - as @Jaded'n'faded says, when we don't understand we fall back on chance/superstition.
  13. Chrissie B

    Chrissie B Registered User

    Jan 15, 2019
    North Yorkshire
    Chrissie "puts away the good wine guide"
  14. Jale

    Jale Registered User

    Jul 9, 2018
    Haven't seen it, but have read similar, but like your Mum Max68, my Mum was never far away from puzzle books, crosswords, jigsaws, I could carry on with the things she used to do but it hasn't prevented her from getting vascular dementia.
  15. Louise7

    Louise7 Registered User

    Mar 25, 2016
    Yes, I remember reading that beetroot was good for your heart then a couple of months later the same newspaper was saying that beetroot can cause heart attacks :rolleyes:

    When I get any free time to myself and am enjoying a glass or two of red wine to accompany my 'beetroot roulette' I find it best to avoid any newspaper articles that are health related.......
  16. Bunpoots

    Bunpoots Registered User

    Apr 1, 2016
  17. Louise7

    Louise7 Registered User

    Mar 25, 2016
    The trouble is that I like beetroot but it doesn't like me so I can only have it in moderation, which rules it out as a wine for me :p
  18. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    lol Louise - beetroot doesn't like me either, so it's really annoying to see '54 ways with beetroot' all over the media!
  19. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    I think it's the media's eagerness to leap on any and every hint of something that works for any medical condition. Media is about selling ads, newspapers, airtime, not necessarily being scrupulously careful about what they report.

    For the last 30 years, I have been annoyed by the "use this or do that and you can reduce your risk of dying by 70%". That annoys me beyond belief. I realize they mean that you can reduce your risk of dying prematurely but whenever I've seen it as an unqualified statement, I usually fire off an email pointing out the ridiculousness of it.
  20. theunknown

    theunknown Registered User

    Apr 17, 2015
    My mum was a teacher until she took early retirement due to (physical) ill health. Right up 'til the time she was sectioned in her 80s and then placed in a care home she was doing crosswords, Sudoko, discussing current events, politics, using her library to access the internet and teach others about it, etc. She was never officially diagnosed with Alzheimers, but dementia and 'irreversible cognitive impairment'. She died last Sunday. To say that you can stave off Alzheimers by using your brain is insulting in my opinion (and false information), just the same as it's insulting to say you can 'avoid cancer' if you follow government guidelines. Dementia/Alzheimers/cancer are physical conditions which, if they're going to happen to you, will, whatever you do.

    I really hope that eventually we will have research that informs us how to stave these conditions off, but at this period in time the Government is treating Alzheimers/Dementia as a social issue, not an NHS issue, and there's no money provided for so-called social health problems.

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