Nancy Weinbeck
Nancy Weinbeck

Here at Bayview, we’re not sick from COVID, but sick of COVID.

We’re tired of social distancing, of wearing masks, of keeping our distance from loved ones, of not going to the movies or restaurants. We’re sick of all the bad news out there in the world, and we know from research that dwelling on the negative is bad for our health.

In a prior column I addressed the benefits of a positive mindset and how older adults may have a positive mindset bias. This bias may lead to better health outcomes. I mentioned some tips to create a more positive mood, such as the pencil trick, as a faithful reader recently reminded me.

While scary stories of COVID and political unrest have dominated the headlines, positive and promising developments on healthy aging have slipped under the radar. Here are a few news tidbits that may help us pivot towards a more positive mindset in the midst of turmoil and chaos.

A world without Alzheimer’s disease? A major pharmaceutical company announced on Jan. 11 that researchers had positive results in their Phase 2 clinical trial of a drug that clears away the amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains. Plaques are one of the telltale signs of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Findings of this drug showed slowing of decline of cognition and daily function in patients with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

This is just the beginning of potentially viable and effective treatments for an insidious disease that more than 5 million Americans suffer from, is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and from which 1 in 3 seniors will die.

On the cancer front, a team of Australian scientists published promising findings on a cancer vaccine that could potentially be used to treat blood cancers as well as tumors. Imagine taking a vaccine to prevent cancer! As well, according to World Economic Forum, the 2020 annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology reported on advances in the treatment of ovarian, breast and prostate cancers.

June 2020 also brought the world’s first spherical artificial eye with a 3D retina. This could potentially restore vision to those who suffer from visual impairment. Macular degeneration is particularly cruel to our elders who are also struggling with mobility issues even with full sightedness. Imagine restoring sight to those who face an ever-darkening world!

These are just a few of the medical advances on the horizon. Imagine a world where dementia doesn’t exist! Families not devastated by the loss of loved ones who no longer recognize nor remember them. Imagine cancer becoming a relic of the past, like polio and smallpox. Imagine if we could all live long and live well, right up to the end.

That’s the world I want to live in, and one I want for all of our seniors.

Good news is on the horizon. I’m feeling my positivity bias engine engaging, and it feels great!

Do you have some good news on healthy aging to share? Send me an email at nweinbeck@bayviewseattle.org. I’d love to hear it and pass it on.

 

— Nancy Weinbeck is the CEO of Bayview in Queen Anne.