After watching his father struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, Wayne was understandably concerned about whether he might develop the condition. Despite that, Wayne’s lifestyle left an awful lot to be desired, especially his habit of binging on fast food and sitting all day, designing websites. By the time he came to see me, Wayne was a bit over 300 pounds, and he had all the health issues you might expect — prediabetes, high blood pressure, and early signs of heart disease.
With those risk factors, even though Wayne was only in his late forties, I was concerned that he might not live long enough to develop Alzheimer’s. But whenever I tried to talk to him about his poor eating habits and lack of exercise, he swore he would make some changes — and never did.
Then one day, Wayne was introducing his new fiancée to his boss and blanked out on her name. Needless to say, his fiancée, Jenna, was not amused. But the incident left Wayne shaken and terrified. Convinced that he was on the fast track to dementia, Wayne came to my office asking about genetic testing. While it is possible to test individuals for gene variations that may lead to Alzheimer’s, I explained that even a positive result would not necessarily mean he was doomed to develop the disease. Then I suggested that rather than have the test and agonize over the results, Wayne should clean up his act and improve his overall health. Although Wayne was underwhelmed by my advice, Jenna, who had come along, was much more enthusiastic.
Lifestyle changes can be tricky, but Jenna had the determination of a boot-camp instructor. A year later, when Wayne returned for a physical, the results of Jenna’s efforts were obvious. Wayne, who was now her husband, had lost more than fifty pounds. “Another fifty to go!” Jenna told me. “Then we’re going on a second honeymoon, so Wayne can show off his new buff bod in Hawaii.
Buff was not the word I would have chosen to describe Wayne, but maybe that’s because I was more impressed by his blood work. With his cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, and other markers in the normal range, Wayne was practically a different person. When I asked about his memory and if there had been any more incidents, Wayne shook his head. “Nope, nothing like that. I mean, sometimes I walk into a room and then wonder what I came in there for. But like you told me, those things happen to a lot of people, and that’s as far as memory loss goes. So I don’t worry about tomorrow. Instead, I’m just going to take care of myself today.”
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Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: June 4, 2012