Thursday, May 1, 2008

I Really Don't Want to Lose My Mind

Why do we have to lose our minds when we get old?

When you work in a pharmacy, you're naturally interacting with a lot of elderly customers. Sometimes, I actually have to remind myself that at one point in their lives, they were like me. At one point, they actually could keep track of what happened 5 minutes ago. They could grasp simple concepts like "your insurance will only allow a 30 day supply on your medication." They were lively. They weren't afraid to leave their houses.

It seems unbelievable that they were young once, and it scares me because I really really really hope that some day I don't turn out to be like them. I don't want to be that old guy that comes to the pharmacy every month and asks why they're charging him more for his prescription even though his copay has been the exact same for 2 years. I don't want to be the old guy that can't remember which pills he's there to pick up, but he's certain he called in something even though the pharmacist cannot find any trace of whatever he might be looking for.

I want to stay sharp. I want to be quick witted my entire life. I don't want to lose my mind. It's scary because I can see signs of that same thing happening to my mother, and she's not even 60 yet. Every once in a while, she'll completely forget about a 2 hours conversation we had the day before, or she'll ask me the same question for the 10,000th time. My mom has always been very intelligent. If she can start to become forgetful and intellectually duller, then anyone can... including myself.

I know it's all part of aging. I just can't ever imagine being that old man who needs his meds delivered to him because he's physically incapable of leaving the house. I don't want to need someone to look after me. My mind, as fucked up as it is sometimes, is my strongest assett. If I lose that, what will I be?


Eric, AKA The Pragmatic Caregiver said...


It's like that old Woody Allen line. .. . "Protect the brain, it's my second-favorite organ".

Dealing with The Old Guy with the degenerative neurological disorder, I've decided that neuroprotection is where it's at. The NET-PD trials have evaluated CoQ10, minocycline, creatine and a novel compound, and of course there's been Vit E, Vit C, folate, B12 and B6 trials (DATATOP, VITAL, etc).

I'm taking high-dose folate/B12/B6 (Diatx Zn) and a statin, and watching my blood pressure and glucose like a hawk, because they're cheap and easy interventions. At some point, I'll personally add higher-dose CoQ10 (the old guy already takes it - I figure I've got some leeway left, and it's expensive at $200/month vs ~$50 at the lower dose). I'll definitely be watching creatine, and I'm not going to quit following the science.

Aging is more complex than rusting, so antioxidants alone aren't gonna do the trick, but preserving brain function is probably going to be a reality in the next few years.


pharmacy chick said...

To comment on the above: Statins have been known to cause memory disfunction, as do anticholinergics such as Ditropan or Detrol. These are common agents used in the elderly but very little has been said about the side effects of using them in this population. I have a great memory for work things and rarely drop the ball, but when I have a day off, my brain is like a sieve. I guess I give my brain a rest. My friend (with a phenomenal memory) asks me how I can be so good at work and so forgetful at home...I guess its because I choose to. When I need it, its there for me. I am grateful for good genes, both my grandparents lived (and thrived) into their nineties so I have hope I will not be a babbling idiot when I am Mike, national Geographic did a great article on memory a couple of months ago.