High Blood Pressure: What does this have to do with Alzheimer’s?

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If Only I Can Remember By Regina Posvar

Q: Dear Regina, I have not been feeling well for a while and my own memory seems to be slipping me. My only illness at this time is high blood pressure. Does blood pressure affect memory? My doctor says it does a little but not to worry. How much can it affect my memory and can I fix it?

A: Uncontrolled blood pressure can affect your memory. There was a recent study showing that people with high blood pressure and a genetic mutation already have a higher count of tau plaques which is a hallmark for Alzheimer’s than someone without high blood pressure. Taking care of your heart is essential to brain health.

There is not one cause that scientists or doctors can find that say “this causes Alzheimer’s” or other dementias. Vascular Dementia is a lack of blood flow to the brain and it can strike anywhere in the brain. High blood pressure is a symptom of many things. Finding the cause of the elevated blood pressure and reducing that will help decrease your risk of developing other illnesses such as strokes, other heart disease, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s.

We know what happens to the brain after the brain is damaged. We do not know what caused the neuron cells to malfunction with Alzheimer’s. We have a lot of contributing factors like terrible diets, toxins, stress, negative attitudes, hormone and vitamin deficiencies; all can contribute to the cause and elevated blood pressures is one of them. Most of these things can be avoided but a lot of us ignore listening to our bodies until something happens. Preventing risk factors is your best alternative to developing dementia.

Q: Dear Regina, I went to visit my mom last week at home and I was just overwhelmed with what was happening in her house. I knew that she had memory issues and she had hired a girl to help her around the house but what I found was disturbing. My mom lives an hour from me so it is not easy to just stop by after work. I am busy with work and making sure my children get to school and activities. Now I am very worried about my mom and the carers in her home. One of them is not honest at all. Once I removed the caregiver that is living in her home, how will I find another person to help her or how much help does my mom need? I am not sure. Can you direct me?

A: I have heard this story a few times in the past three weeks. With your mom having dementia, and it seems she is still independent with making decisions, you are at a good advantage to start getting things in place for her. So before she is unable to make decisions, get her legal and medical affairs in order: her will and any medical decisions on how she wants her life to be towards the end, Power of Attorney for finance and medical or get guardianship or simply have her add your name to her accounts to start. This may be hard to think about or to talk about but it is necessary. Elderly abuse with finance is no secret. Get other family members involved if you can as this will help with extra eyes.

The next thing that is needed is to have someone come and do an assessment of your mom and her home situation to help you understand her needs. She may be resistant so there are techniques to use to help your mom. She may not need so many people in her home so soon.

The key for you is not to appear bossy toward her or make her feel she is doing everything wrong. Support all her decisions and ask if you can help or tell her you would love to do this for her so she can have a break. With banking matters, bring yours and you both can do them together.

Get the assessment as soon as possible. The Will and POA will take some time to get in place. Once you find out what is needed, you can decide how you want to deal with the caregivers. If they are needed, they can be trained if you are comfortable with them. Otherwise, the Alzheimer’s Association can help you find trained people and a list of service providers that are trained.

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