“The brain gives the heart its sight and the heart gives the brain its vision.”
-Dr. Jill Kalman, cardiologist, Mount Sinai Medical Center

Interesting way of looking at it, right?

Dr. Kalman, along with Dr. Maria Carrillo, vice president of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer’s Association, recently spoke at an event hosted by The Judy Fund.

They talked about the two health issues that many women fear: heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Researchers are finding that risk factors traditionally associated with heart disease are likely linked to ALZ as well.

From the Alzheimer’s Association: We can make lifestyle choices that keep both the heart and the brain healthy.  For instance, we know that a higher BMI (body mass index) and higher cholesterol (particularly the bad LDL kind) is certainly a risk factor for heart disease and may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.  We also know inflammation is bad – it is connected to the brain abnormality typical of Alzheimer’s patients and it is a common problem for victims of stroke and heart attack.  This is why it is so important for family caregivers to pay attention to both the heart and the head.

While trying to balance everything they are dealing with emotionally, logistically, physically, and otherwise, caregivers all too often forget to care for themselves. Most have a very difficult time asking for help (and even accepting help when offered), but that needs to change. There are free, easily accessible tools, such as the Alzheimer’s Association Care Team Calendar and CareZone that can make this easier, so check them out! (And watch for my Caregivers post on Monday to learn more about CareZone.)

The bottom line, as the old adage goes, if you don’t take care of yourself, there will quickly come a time when you won’t be able to take care of anyone else. Start now by taking small steps:

  • Take a 20 minute walk
  • Replace one unhealthy “constant” in your diet with a healthy food
  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier at night
  • Drink water rather than soda

Read more about what Drs. Kalman and Carrillo had to say here -> Caregiving Conversation Between Your Heart and Your Head

Also, check out The Judy Fund, which was established by the Marshall Gelfand Family in memory of Judy Gelfand. Both Mrs. Gelfand and her mother suffered from ALZ. This organization, led by daughter Elizabeth Gelfand-Stearns has raised nearly $5 million since 2003 and has sponsored nine research projects. Talk about making a difference!! What an accomplishment and beautiful tribute to Mrs. Gelfand…

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