Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Coming soon to your neighborhood . . . senile dementia

I just read online a report about signs of senile dementia. Don’t ask me why I’m even reading reports on senile dementia. I think I’m going to become an indigenous Alaskan and walk into the ice house now and seal the door. Put me on the ice floe with a hunk of whale meat and a Bible and let me float away into oblivion. Here’s what the report says:

"More bad news for night owls: Your sleep cycle now may lead to dementia later. In a December 2011 study published in Annals of Neurology, 1,300 healthy women over the age of 75 were followed over the course of five years. By the end of that time, 39 percent had developed some form of mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Researchers found that women with weaker circadian rhythms (those who performed less physical activity early in the day) were 80 percent more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or dementia than women who were active early in the day.”

Lord, help me! I have horrible insomnia. Horrible. I’ve tried everything. Don’t even mention “good sleep hygiene” to me—I’ve heard it all and I’ve done everything. I’ve done lots of drugs—ranging from over-the-counter sleep aids (it is to laugh, she says, any of the pain-PM meds don’t even make me yawn) to Lunesta to Ambien (I unconsciously shopped online on Ambien and had to quit it for the sake of my credit card) to Seroquel, a medication for psychotic disorders. Nothing works.

Take, for example, last night. I went to bed at around 11 and didn’t get to sleep (with medication) until close to 1 a.m. I was wide awake, legs moving, no hope of further sleep at 4 a.m. Finally I gave in and I got up close to 5 o’clock, cooked a bowl of oatmeal, checked my e-mail, did some online research, read for a while, then went back to sleep. It was nearly 10 a.m. when I got up again. This is not good. This is not restful sleep and I’m sure my circadian rhythms are going to be the death of me. Exercise in the morning? Last night was a good night. Many nights I don’t get to sleep until almost 4 a.m. How in the name of all that is holy am I supposed to get up and exercise in the morning light?

So if this kind of sleep cycle causes dementia I might as well get on the waiting list for the dementia unit at the home. I’ll skip past the independent living part and go straight to the unit with the locked doors. "Sorry, Miss Xander, this is your home now. No, you don't live in the pretty townhouse with the garden any longer. They had to sell it to put you in this ring of hell. Now just be good and eat your apple sauce." I did not need this “more bad news for night owls” from the neurology scientists. Note that they studied women and the bad news is specifically for women. For 80 percent of the women! I’m a woman. I’m one of the 80 percent. Am I walking down the road to senile dementia? Damnation, I don’t want this to be my life. Believe me, I’m much rather be sleeping.

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