Friday, January 18, 2:30 LIFE program at Mira Costa College, Oceanside. How to regain your youthful memory. Details at http://www.miracosta.edu/life.
Thursday, January 24, 1:00, OASIS Center, Grossmont Center. Keeping your wits; ten ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Sponsored by OASIS. To register see their web site at http://www.oasisnet.org.
In the news
Get in line for the new shingles vaccine
Shingles (herpes zoster) is an unpleasant experience but as more older persons are taking advantage of the available vaccines, fewer of them are having to suffer through it. The decline in incidence began with the first shingles vaccine known as Zostavax but it’s likely to accelerate with Shingrix, a completely new product that offers more than 90% effectiveness and whose protection lasts for at least four years.
There is new evidence that adds urgency to getting the vaccine: there is a significantly higher incidence of heart attack and stroke in persons who have had an attack of shingles in the preceding year.
The demand for Shingrix has been so high that it is now in short supply. Many pharmacies have waiting lists and the manufacturer states that it will be several months before they can catch up.
Although the new vaccine requires two doses (the second is given two to six months after the first) and the incidence of side effects such as arm soreness and malaise is more common, there is no doubt that it’s worth the inconvenience. Just a few days ago I encountered another person who has had recurrent pain in the area that was affected by shingles years ago. That’s a lot worse than a couple of needle jabs.
Here’s a suggestion for this year New Year’s Resolution: get the shingles vaccine before shingles gets you. The sooner you get on your local pharmacist’s waiting list the sooner you’ll be protected.
Another step to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
All prescription drugs have side effects; there are no exceptions. Several types of medications have been associated with an increased risk of dementia. Although the risk is very small, it is real. Drugs that are used for allergies, insomnia, bladder problems and depression are valuable and they should be used when indicated but they should be taken in the smallest effective doses and for the shortest possible duration.
Sleep medications are often prescribed for insomnia but they should be taken for no more than two weeks, not for years. There are several steps that might resolve sleep problems without drugs.
Occasional use of medications like Benadryl or Tylenol PM may be justified but years-long use does increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.