Today, Kyle and Jeff talk about the importance of keeping our eyes healthy, especially as we age. We also visit with Mike Miller from the Alzheimer’s Association about warning signs, but maybe more importantly about what we can all do right now to mitigate the effects of this devastating disease. Pssst… It’s stuff we all can and should be doing anyway. Check it at The Huntsman World Senior Games out.

 

Kyle Case:
Hello, and welcome to the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life. My name is Kyle Case, and I'll be your host on this amazing journey as we attempt to help you get the most out of your life. Joining me in the studio today is my co-pilot, Jeff Harding. Jeff, how you doing today?

Jeff Harding:
I am exuberant with spring today.

Kyle Case:
It's such a beautiful day.

Jeff Harding:
It is. It's amazing.

Kyle Case:
And it's just a great time of year. So I appreciate your exuberance with spring because I feel the same way.

Jeff Harding:
Well, and it shows on your face Kyle, you have that spring [inaudible 00:00:40].

Kyle Case:
Thank you. Thank you.

Jeff Harding:
Also a sunburn.

Kyle Case:
A little, a little red. It doesn't take me very long. It doesn't take me long at all.

Kyle Case:
Hey, today, Jeff, I want to talk about something that we honestly, we haven't spent a lot of time on. But I think that it's a pretty important subject. And that is our vision.

Jeff Harding:
You know that is something you really appreciate.

Kyle Case:
It's a big one. I think it's natural for many of us to worry about losing our vision, especially as things get harder to read. And you can't see quite as far as you could, especially as we age, we experienced some of those things. And so we start worrying about our vision. After all, there are three leading causes of blindness in the United States. And those all three become very common as we age or become more common. I don't want to say they're very common, but they become more common as we age. Those three things are cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. So I just want to touch real briefly on each one of those three things-

Jeff Harding:
Okay, great.

Kyle Case:
... and give a heads up on things that we should be watching for. Let's start with cataracts, number one. The only way to cure a cataract, which is incidentally a clouding of the lens of the eye that impairs the vision. The only way to cure that is with surgery. And the surgery replaces the bad lens and then puts in an artificial one. You probably know people who have had cataracts. Have you had cataracts or you haven't?

Jeff Harding:
No, I haven't.

Kyle Case:
My dad had cataract surgery. Generally speaking, the procedure is very safe, it's very effective. Cataract surgery usually performed as an outpatient procedure requires an only local anesthetic to numb your eye and then you're on your way before you know it. Research shows that for most people, the only pre-op requirements are that you be free of infection and that you have normal blood pressure, and a normal heart rate. This day and age it's pretty easily taken care of.

Jeff Harding:
It's very common. And then people talk about their vision overall improving when they get the new lens, not just the cataract being gone but-

Kyle Case:
Right, right. If you're worried about that, if you feel like you're having some clouds, cloudy vision, get it checked out, because the solution is pretty easy on that one.

Jeff Harding:
Or screen your glasses.

Kyle Case:
Screen your glasses could be another easy solution as well.

Kyle Case:
Number two glaucoma. Jeff, more than 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma. But here's the kicker, only half of them know it.

Jeff Harding:
Wow.

Kyle Case:
It's a disease that's hard to know that you have. That makes screening very important. Treatment, of course, is key because glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss. But the treatment, which often requires several different daily eyedrops can sometimes be expensive, and a little complicated. Glaucoma often goes on diagnose because it causes really no symptoms until your vision declines. And when your vision starts to decline, it's kind of too late, which is why screening becomes really important.

Jeff Harding:
What is glaucoma?

Kyle Case:
So glaucoma is ... Oh, that's a good question.

Jeff Harding:
I thought you had that there.

Kyle Case:
I think I deleted that paragraph with the official definition of what glaucoma is. What they're saying though, is that people ages 40 to 60 should consider being examined by an ophthalmologist, or an optometrist every two to ... Excuse me, every three to five years. And people ... Does Siri know?

Kyle Case:
Tell us what Siri says, Jeff.

Jeff Harding:
Well, Siri just gave me some stuff about the test for glaucoma.

Kyle Case:
Yeah, that's what I got, a lot of testing stuff. They do say that people over 60 need an eye exam every one to two years. So you want to be on top of that and make sure that you're going into your eye doctor, and they can define for you what glaucoma is and explain exactly what it is.

Kyle Case:
The last one Jeff, macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration, they say is a leading cause of vision loss in the United States, for people ages 50 and older. What it does is it damages the macula, which is the small area near the center of your retina. And that causes vision loss in the center of your visual field. I know a couple of people who are dealing with macular degeneration and that's exactly what they say it's like. There's a hole right in the middle, not peripherally, but right in the middle, which makes it a problem.

Kyle Case:
The advanced disease comes in two main forms. There's dry AMD, which is the more common variety, and that's treated mainly with dietary supplements. And then there's also wet AMD, which is the more serious form and that requires a monthly injection from an ophthalmologist with one of three drugs. Research funded by the National Institute of Health has shown that a very specific blend of vitamins and minerals known as AREDS, which constitutes vitamin C and E, plus copper, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc that cuts the risk by about 25% that dry AMD will progress. A reminder though, Jeff, those supplements have only shown to help treat people that are all readily diagnosed with AMD. So taking those supplements won't necessarily prevent the disease, but it keeps it from getting worse.

Jeff Harding:
My mom is currently suffering from macular degeneration and-

Kyle Case:
Really, do you know if it's dry or wet?

Jeff Harding:
I'm not sure but she said it's the lesser of the two. So it's probably dry.

Kyle Case:
They're saying that dry is the lesser of the two?

Jeff Harding:
Right.

Kyle Case:
Like I said before, there are three drugs that they use to treat the wet AMD, the name brands of those drugs are Eylea, Avastin and Lucentis. They all work equally well, in slowing vision loss. So you got some choices there. The difference is that Avastin costs about $50 a month, compared with about $2,000 a month for the other ones. So many experts recommend Avastin. The problem with Avastin if there is a problem, is that it's really only approved for a certain type of cancer treatment and the dosage is connected to that cancer treatment. So if a doctor prescribes it, it has to be compounded. Compounding is fine, there's a lot of great pharmacies out there that do compounding, but it does potentially raise the risk of infection. So you just want to be aware, make sure that your pharmacy, if it's a compounding pharmacy is accredited by the Compounding Accreditation Board. And then Avastin could be a really good option for you.

Jeff Harding:
Siri told me what glaucoma is.

Kyle Case:
Okay, please inform us.

Jeff Harding:
It's damaged [inaudible 00:07:09] to the optic nerve, known as cupping, and it involves abnormal pressure in ocular pressure.

Kyle Case:
Okay, there you go. So the tests that they do for glaucoma I know is evaluating that pressure. And then they also are recommending that you take a look at the optic nerve as well. So anyway, Jeff, do you see how important caring for your eyes can be?

Jeff Harding:
I think I can.

Kyle Case:
Did you see what I did there?

Jeff Harding:
I did.

Kyle Case:
Did you see what I did there?

Jeff Harding:
I did. I did.

Kyle Case:
Hey, today's guest is Mike Miller from the Utah Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. And we're looking-

Jeff Harding:
I think I can.

Kyle Case:
We're looking forward to learning all that we can about Alzheimer's and cognitive decline. It's such a big deal, as we hear so much about it. It's so prevalent, whether we're affected by it directly. As patients ourselves, we're going to be affected by it by a family member, because it is that prevalent. Mike, we're glad that you're here joining us today. Thanks for taking the time and being with us.

Mike Miller:
My pleasure to be here. Thanks very much, Kyle.

Kyle Case:
So let's just start right at the very beginning, which is a very good place to start.

Mike Miller:
Of course.

Kyle Case:
As we learned in the sound of music. What is Alzheimer's disease? Let's just define it and get right into it.

Mike Miller:
All right. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease, and it works in the brain. And at present, there is no cure or treatment for it. So that's what makes it so, so tough to deal with. And it's almost ... I don't want to talk about this disease.

Kyle Case:
Nobody wants to talk about it because it's hard to find hope.

Mike Miller:
Its bad news. We don't know what to do. Kind of like where the cancer was 40-45 years ago. Nobody wanted the C word with their diagnosis. Well, now it's Alzheimer's, let's get by that.

Kyle Case:
Well, and the great thing is that we've learned so much about cancer treatment. And while there isn't any one size fits all, there's a lot of good things that are going out there with cancer treatment. We know that there's a ton of research that's going on right now about Alzheimer's as well, and we all have to keep our fingers crossed that we find some kind of a solution, whether it's a treatment or prevention. It's a big deal.

Mike Miller:
It is and as you mentioned earlier, it affects the whole family. And across America, there are just under 6 million individuals with Alzheimer's disease, but guess what, there are three people serving as volunteer caregivers, for those 6 million effective people. And that's just the family members, the aunts, the uncles, two daughters, and their caregiving role is a monster because it's a 24/7 situation.

Kyle Case:
Very, very difficult situation. So what are some of the signs that we should be watching out for in this pretty debilitating disease? What are we looking for?

Mike Miller:
All right, just a couple highlights. One of the signs is challenges in planning or solving problems. And let's say your grandmother has always had the favorite apple pie ready for Easter, or maybe for Thanksgiving, and she just makes it from scratch all the time. And now this year, she can't remember the ingredients or how to cook it. And you start to wonder, "Is grandmother okay?"

Kyle Case:
Something's not quite right there.

Mike Miller:
Something different going on. So that's a little telltale sign, challenges in planning and solving problems. Misplacing things or losing the ability to replay steps is another key indicator. And you know, you might forget something, and you wander off, and you remember to go back and get it, you just about left the house without your purse or something. Or you can't find your keys. But if you find your keys in the refrigerator, that is a bad sign.

Kyle Case:
That is a bad sign.

Mike Miller:
That's a very bad sign because something's going on and that's not where they should be, or perhaps your clothes end up in the microwave. You thought that was the dryer all of a sudden. And those are just different behaviors, you've lost track of what's going on and what things are supposed to be used for. And so you just go into a little different mode of action.

Kyle Case:
So I think that's worth just emphasizing really quick in that. I mean, we all lose our keys, we all misplace them. Or for you to take them as you're going or [crosstalk 00:11:21].

Mike Miller:
We're busy, that's right.

Kyle Case:
Everyone's put their glasses on the top of the head and ask the partner, "Have you seen my glasses?" We've all done those little slip-ups before. That's just normal life. That's just we're busy. There's a lot going on. What you're talking about is really different than that. As you said, you're finding your keys in the refrigerator, or your clothes in the microwave, those are bigger indicators than just, "Oh, no, where have I put my keys down?"

Mike Miller:
That's right. So yeah, some of those other issues you mentioned are just part of normal aging or part of being in a busy life.

Mike Miller:
Another good indicator changes in emotion and personality. And as dementia and Alzheimer's disease goes through the brain, it affects the ability to contain and manage your emotion. You could just all of a sudden be laughing or having an emotional moment during a situation and that wasn't like somebody's normal behavior. So that's an early indicator that something's changing in the brain, which you should have it looked at.

Mike Miller:
When you see these signs or some others, it's time to make sure your loved one goes and sees their general practice doctor, their family physician, and they ask for the cognitive assessment. That is crucial because that's the first step to find out how is this brain doing in this individual we're visiting with right now?

Kyle Case:
Again, this is something that you would just go to your regular, your primary care physician, you don't have to start off with a specialist.

Mike Miller:
No, right.

Kyle Case:
And most doctors are trained. They know what that, what you call the cognitive evaluation and the cognitive tests, they're able to perform that, is that done in a day or an afternoon? What does that look like? What's that test look like?

Mike Miller:
They can vary, but I know that they can give an individual a couple of three to four words. Start out with the conversation, and then they'll ask the person what are those words 15 minutes later. They'll ask them about the day, the month, what time it is. There's a clock test where they ask an individual to draw a clock. And that means that big circle with the 12 numbers, and they say, "Okay, let's put 3:15 on there, or 3:30, 4:10. And those are just measurements of how well your brain is working. If any of those signs come up on the negative side, the next step would be a little deeper analysis, and possibly a referral to a specialist. But the family practice doctors are often able to do this initial test. We even have a smartphone app for physicians, they can have right there that walks them through those steps.

Mike Miller:
And I just learned last week that it's part of the protocols at the Intermountain Healthcare System, somebody over 65 coming in for their annual wellness check. It's part of that process, let's do the annual cognitive assessment.

Kyle Case:
I think that's great. You get your blood pressure, you do whatever blood work that you're doing, listen to the heart, and then also check the brain. And just check where you're at. I think that's important.

Kyle Case:
You're listening to the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life, and we're visiting with Alzheimer's expert, Mike Miller. We're talking about Alzheimer's and the effects, some of the early signs that we may be looking for. So as we said, there's no cure for this disease. And it can be pretty scary. Some people don't want to talk about it, as we mentioned, but why would someone want to get an early diagnosis?

Mike Miller:
Early diagnosis helps in a lot of ways. It gives a person the time to take a look at their life plan. And if they know they've got that diagnosis changes are coming. So they should be looking at their trust and will plans and access those while they've got the cognitive abilities, and work with their financial planners and attorneys and make adjustments as necessary. There are medical benefits they can access and bring into the situation as well as looking in the future to a care plan. And letting other people know that this is coming unless not lay the whole burden of caring just on one person in the family. But let's spread it out between family and friends, maybe church members, community members in our neighborhood. And that means a lot because too many caregivers work this through by themselves.

Kyle Case:
And they get burned out really bad.

Mike Miller:
They do. And a caregiver it's burned out is not a caregiver, they are a patient.

Jeff Harding:
That's right. It's tough.

Kyle Case:
So finding out early on really is about preparation and understanding and then planning for the next steps.

Mike Miller:
Yes. And then maximizing your life right now too. You might make some adjustments. Maybe you're going to retire early. You hadn't planned on, but it's time to do that perhaps now, so I can make those family visits and that vacation trip when I wanted to drive across the country.

Kyle Case:
Yeah, while you're still able to recognize and enjoy [crosstalk 00:16:11].

Kyle Case:
So that's a little depressing. Let's be honest, that's not a lot of fun to talk about. And as you said, there's no cure out there. But they're finding with all the research that they're doing, that there are things that we can do to maybe either delay the onset or maybe even prevent. They're starting to use those words in the research that they're doing right now.

Mike Miller:
Yes, they are.

Kyle Case:
What are some things that we need to be looking at so that we can potentially avoid some of the challenges with Alzheimer's and dementia?

Mike Miller:
I think your listeners are on the right track, they're coming out for Senior Games and being active in life is a real positive deterrent in a way to prevent or lessen the chance of getting Alzheimer's. So that says, Take care of your heart. All right? Recent evidence shows that hypertension is a factor and bringing on Alzheimer's, so keeping your blood pressure below 120 is super important. So taking care of your heart and watching your blood pressure, really important.

Kyle Case:
We've talked a little bit about some of these cognitive declines and Alzheimer's and dementia on the show. Jeff, we've covered a lot of that. And we found every article that we find and all the information that we receive is that if you're taking care of your heart, by default, you're taking care of your brain as well.

Jeff Harding:
That's right.

Kyle Case:
Just that concept of getting blood flow and oxygen and all those things, it makes a lot of sense that connection between your heart and brain. So as you said, participating in a sport, whether you're competing or just participating. If walking is your thing, if you like to run, cycle or swim, any of those things can be very helpful in not only allowing you to have a strong heart, which is important but also strengthening your brain and your mind. And again, potentially offsetting some of these effects down the road that we're dealing with as a society. So that makes a lot of sense and it doesn't have to be a ton. Every little bit helps. 15, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, ideally 30 minutes a day, but every little bit helps, some is better than none. Would you say that?

Mike Miller:
That's exactly right. And make it a regimen make it part of your life. Make an appointment to get out and exercise. 9:30 every day, 5:30 if it warms up. So that's really important. So on the other side of the day, you want to get that rest.

Kyle Case:
Yes, I love my sleep.

Mike Miller:
You're in your PJs today, I thought you had kind of [crosstalk 00:18:39]. So [inaudible 00:18:42] that's all about letting your body repair itself at night. And you talked about the eyes earlier, Kyle. As you're resting your eyes are repairing from the day's work, your brain is recalibrating, your whole body is repairing itself. So a full night's sleep ... Now we don't define full for everybody. But you've got to be getting 6, 7, 8 hours of sleep if you can. Really help you repair and rejuvenate for the next day. So that's critical.

Kyle Case:
Everything that I've seen really recommends, like you said, seven to nine hours, six to eight, somewhere in that range there. And again, this is an area that we've done a little bit of research on. And we've just found so many studies that emphasize the importance of sleep because there's recharging that happens and that's really important. I think I you can't emphasize that enough. But also, when you're asleep, especially in REM sleep, your brain actually cleans out toxins and the plaques that they're finding in Alzheimer's patients. And that only happens during sleep. It doesn't happen during meditation, it doesn't happen while you're active, while you're running, while you're watching TV, while you're thinking happy thoughts. It only happens while you're asleep. And if you are not sleeping, if you're not getting that recommended amount of sleep that you really need, your brain is not cleaning out those toxins, and they accumulate. So sleep is so, so vital. The very, very important. We talk about that a lot.

Jeff Harding:
We do, we do.

Kyle Case:
But that's an important one.

Jeff Harding:
Definitely is.

Kyle Case:
What else do we need to be aware of? What can we do to help avoid some of the long term problems?

Mike Miller:
So you want to manage stress. And as we age, we could be feeling stress about the future, our grandkids, our own kids and things of that nature, even though maybe work may be behind us, you want to manage stress. And if you're feeling depressed or anxious about things or have other mental health concerns, really important to get in and see your family doctor and get a little bit of an assessment. That same kind of assessments take place in the mental health community where there are some early initial tests, so we can diagnose what's going on. And so stress and management of that stress are really key. And then now just couple that with staying active pursue. Pursue social activities, such as the Senior Games, getting out with others, being active in your neighborhood, don't hold up as a hermit in your home and just read some books, but force yourself to get out there and meet new people. It keeps your mind active, and your whole body moving. It may not be your personality type, but if you want to live a little longer, it's a good thing to do.

Kyle Case:
You take it up, right?

Jeff harding:
[inaudible 00:21:22].

Kyle Case:
That's another area of study that we found a lot of information on the importance of being socially connected. And again, they've done a lot of research on that, surprising research that just finds so many health benefits. Things that you wouldn't necessarily think are connected to being socially active, are so good for our bodies. It's good for our immunity, it's good for our heart, it's good for, obviously, our brains and our minds. And as you said, not everyone is an extrovert and maybe that doesn't come easy to everyone. But even just saying hello to your mailman, smiling to people in the grocery store, all of those tiny little social interactions can add up and be an important part of brain health. And again, potentially offsetting some of these long term effects of dementia and Alzheimer's. A lot of value in staying socially active. So awesome.

Kyle Case:
We've got about a minute left, Mike, anything else that you would share with people about caring for themselves or about the disease itself?

Mike Miller:
I'll just close with three points. You obviously want to avoid the disease. So stay healthy and follow the tips we talked about today. If you have the disease or are serving as a caregiver, I'm sorry to hear that. But go to alz.org or national website for some great resources. And if you want to fight the disease, which I think we all want to do, come out and join us for the walk to end Alzheimer's, September 14th at Dixie state, and October 12th up at SUU, in Cedar City, those were two walks.

Mike Miller:
And if you're listening in other areas, we've got 600 walks across the country. Look for the Alzheimer's Association. Come out walk, help us fight the disease.

Kyle Case:
Yeah, I was going to mention that. Local people can participate in either of those days, September 14th at Dixie State University. October 12th, at Southern Utah University. But again, if you're listening outside of the area, there are so many great opportunities to get involved. Help with fundraising, volunteer in this area. Again, this is a disease that's going to touch all of us in one way or another. Let's figure it out. Let's work together and figure it out.

Jeff Harding:
You go to it.

Kyle Case:
Mike, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate your expertise and your time. And we look forward to having you back another time.

Jeff Harding:
Great. I look forward and thank you very much.

Kyle Case:
Awesome. Jeff.

Jeff Harding:
Yes.

Kyle Case:
I talk about this every week. But I'm going to talk about it again because it's important.

Jeff Harding:
And we want people to remember it.

Kyle Case:
We do, registration for-

Jeff Harding:
It's open.

Kyle Case:
... the Huntsman World Senior Games is open. It opened on March 1st, we already have nearly 3500 registered participants.

Jeff Harding:
Which is a lot?

Kyle Case:
Which is a lot, especially this time of year? If you're interested in being part of the Huntsman World Senior Games, and we hope that you're interested.

Jeff Harding:
If nothing else, just avoid Alzheimer's.

Kyle Case:
Well, there are some real benefits there. From the activity to the social aspects. There's a lot of really good things going on there. Put it on your calendar. Use that as motivation to help you really live the active life this year. It's very easy to register. Visit seniorgames.net, click on register, the process is very simple. It's fast and secure, and before you know it, you'll be ready to become one of our more than 11,000 athletes who plan to compete this year in the Huntsman World Senior Games. The dates that you want to put on your calendar for the 2019 Huntsman World Senior Games are October 7th, through the 19th. So put that on your calendar, and then get registered and plan to be a part of it.

Jeff Harding:
That's right.

Kyle Case:
Remember to tune in life next to and every Thursday at 5:30 pm Mountain Time, on AM 1450 or FM 93.1, for the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life. And of course, as you know you can also subscribe to our podcast anywhere that podcasts are found-

Jeff Harding:
That's anywhere.

Kyle Case:
... including iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher. Once you've subscribed, give us a rating and write a quick review. You can really make a difference in helping us spread the word. You can also find this as well as previous shows right on our website. Again, that website is seniorgames.net. So check it out. Jeff.

Jeff Harding:
Yes.

Kyle Case:
Our inspirational quote for the day.

Jeff Harding:
I'm ready to be inspired.

Kyle Case:
Well, this one will inspire you. This is a good one. "The key to success is to focus on goals, not obstacles."

Jeff Harding:
That's true.

Kyle Case:
Until next Thursday, stay active.

Jeff Harding:
Bye, everyone.