Richard’s Almanac: On the road again

Courtesy Photo

From one resort community to another. That’s the way I would describe my last weekend.

I left from the Island to attend a wedding on Cape Cod. The ceremony was in Brewster and the reception was in Orleans, both beautiful beach communities. I also took a side trip up to Wellfleet to pay a visit to an old friend. 

The trip was uneventful from the Cross Sound Ferry all the way through Connecticut into Providence and then on the main highway to the Cape. I had heard stories about Cape Cod traffic but did not notice any problems until some 50 miles short of my destination.

The GPS device kept increasing the time for the trip. Adjustments were being made every five minutes or so. I soon discovered that this was because of the stop-and-go traffic approaching the bridge that connects to the Cape. It was all very crowded. A true “bottleneck.” When I stopped for a bite at a roadside seafood place, hanging on the wall was a photo of “Cape Cod Tunnel-Resident Pass Required.” It took me a while to figure out that it was a doctored photo.

And that was the start of a very slow journey up to Orleans. I saw one sign that gave estimated times to destinations — 26 minutes to travel the next 4 miles! This was worse than pumpkin-picking traffic on the North Fork in October. 

I thought that it would lighten a bit. No way. The main road seemed to be a steady ribbon of cars from the bridge all the way to Provincetown. The natives seem to accept it and the tourists expect it. And it’s tolerated because leaving the main road to the left or the right takes one to spectacular bay and ocean beaches. 

I spotted a few beachfront palaces but most of the homes were wood-shingle “Cape Cod” style houses nestled in woods or right on sandy beaches. There was a very comfortable feel about everything.

During my visit to Wellfleet, on a back road near Wellfleet Harbor, I saw an old nonagenarian friend who is living in the same house she grew up in. I had not seen her for some time. She was sharp as a tack and a testament to the beneficial effects of a healthy lifestyle.

Barbara has always maintained a healthy diet — she’s the first person I heard use the term “macrobiotic.” She does not smoke and swims almost daily. These behaviors have kept her alert and active into her nineties.

All the research I have seen about preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s as we age shows that cognitive disintegration can come from many directions. 

The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation urges individuals to take seven steps to protect their brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Diet is very important.

“There is growing evidence that specific diets -— including the Mediterranean, DASH and MIND diets — may promote brain health,” the Foundation says.

These programs include foods like fish, nuts and vegetables. They’re loaded with vitamins, nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Another important step to take is to get enough sleep. It seems to be accepted that eating and exercise before bedtime are not good for maintaining uninterrupted sleep.

Getting exercise at least 30 minutes a day, three to five days per week “may protect against brain aging and improve mental function,” the foundation suggests.

Another agreed-upon step to take is to alleviate stress. We all know that prolonged stress can hurt us. Make changes that get rid of your stressors.

And be social. Create a circle of friends if you do not have one. Go to lectures, join organizations. The interactions will be beneficial — unless of course your organizations and clubs get involved in minutiae and cause stress. Be social to relax. 

Engage in activities that keep your mind busy. Read, write and do intellectually stimulating tasks. All of these help.

Finally, if you are taking any medications regularly, talk to your physician and pharmacist and evaluate the dementia risks that they pose.

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