The Recliner

Sometime round 1993 my partner who was then suffering significant side effects from advanced HIV disease and near incapacitating peripheral neuropathy purchased two blue recliners.  We had them located in our basement right in front of the TV. They brought great comfort and the ability for a modicum of relaxation to him in his final years.

I therefore highly recommend recliners for the terminally ill. If, however, you are not looking imminent death in the face I absolutely do not recommend recliners. If you occasionally feel the need to recline there are sofas, beds or in a pinch even the floor for that and for god-sakes don’t add a nearby TV or computer screen to the mix.

One of my greatest personal fears with advancing age is the possibility of debilitating dementia. Being the vain, drama queen I am a loss of cognitive function leads my hit parade of bad things that could go wrong. Living alone and with that reality unlikely to change, the thought of winding up in a near vegetative state in a nursing home really lacks appeal. The reality of course is that HIV will probably do me in first. Or perhaps some nasty side-effect from the meds I take to keep “full-blown” AIDS at bay will be my cause of death long before I have the chance to develop dementia. HIV meds are a strong driver for metabolic syndrome and its possible ramifications like diabetes, heart disease or stroke. Living to a ripe old age does present us with an ever-increasing menu of options for returning to the stardust we all are.

But the at times all consuming drive to postpone the inevitable tends to occupy an inordinate number of my waking hours. I was therefore very interested in a recently published study out of Canada dealing with exercise as a viable intervention for postponing or possibly preventing the development of vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. Lets face it in this era of Trump all things Canadian have particular appeal.

There is a known genetic mutation that increases the chances of getting dementia. This gene is called the apolipoprotein E (APOE). What this study strongly implied was that even if you didn’t have this APOE that might pre-dispose you to dementia by not exercising you blew the benefit of not having the bad gene. It is an important caveat though to know this study showed association only and not causation. In other words the study did not prove that lack of exercise causes dementia.

People with this APOE gene are believed to have three to four times the risk of developing dementia. However people without the gene who did not exercise had the same risk for dementia as those with it. The amount of exercise needed to decrease risk was modest – brisk walking three times a week.

Remember regular aerobic exercise seems to lower the risk of dementia, Parkinsons and Alzheimers – gene or no gene. The bottom line here is get your ass out of the recliner.

I have included a link to a review article for this study: