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Nun's who have doctors baffled/Alzheimers


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Excerpt "It seems that challenging the brain creates other routes for rational processes. In one dramatic example a nun preserved her mental capacity until death, even though her brain was fully invaded by the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer’s.

So one approach to delaying dementia is to undertake new activities which challenge us to develop further mental skills. It might be learning a new language, mastering a demanding craft or undertaking voluntary work which requires thought and initiative. These are worthwhile in themselves, but if they do lead to fending off Alzheimer’s, we should be grateful indeed. And there is no time to lose.

The nuns who fared best were those who showed challenging and intellectual vigour from their childhood."


I delight in the ways The Holy Spirit is Present in our world and in the real messiness of life, often slowly and unnoticed (i.e almost covertly at times), is drawing the world towards The Way, The Truth and The Life - and often in the most unlikely of ways.

Truly Lord, you are a God who is (at times) hidden.  Dear Lord, please do not let me get in Your Way today and grant me wisdom and fortitude in the (at times) messiness of my own life and those of my neighbours and communities.  Grant to us all the gift of Love that casts out all and any fear including that of of 'dirty hands'.  Grant we plunge into the depths of life and all its messiness - its problems, difficulties and sinfulness - unafraid and in fortitude and wisdom - with Peace and with Joy, Love.

Deo Gratius!

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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This is very interesting and something I have wondered about. One of my sisters is getting dementia. She's 80, but has the vigour of someone much younger - she's always out doing things and keeping busy. The same goes for another sister who is in her 70s - she has the beginnings of something, but is also incredibly active. They really work to keep themselves busy and I definitely think that influences mental capacity. 

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Dementia is one of my interests - both my grandmother and grandfather have it and I've studied it in school.  Stress is a risk factor for the progression of the disease as well as being inactive.  Nuns, most of the time, have very low stress - especially if they are cloistered - so that might be why the nun did not show signs even though she had the brain degeneration.  Another theory is that signs and symptoms show up during activities that are not done regularly such as annual taxes.  Since it's not a pattern that has developed, the person forgets the steps needed to complete the task at hand.  Teepa Snow mentioned this at a conference I attended last year and it really made sense.  If a pattern has developed, the patient may be able to hide symptoms.

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I visited the Minnesota provincial house of the SSNDs shortly after the "Nun Study" book was published ("Aging with Grace") -- my godmother was a member of the province. I had the privilege of having breakfast with the then-oldest SSND, who is featured in the book--who, at the time, was 107. She was remarkable--sharp of mind and with a great sense of humor. She also used a recumbent bike 10 minutes a day. What a hoot! When I asked if I could take her breakfast dishes to the kitchen for her, she said: "Yes, please. That's one of the privileges of getting old; everyone waits on you!"

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