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Flying airplanes and helicopters makes my brain work as hard as it can and that is a good thing for keeping it working as LONG as I can.
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Feeling Better Now and Then

The struggle to slow the slipping

Text and photo by Tom Hintz

Posted – 1-22-2014

I recently had my biannual visit with my neurologist to access my condition. Thankfully there has not been a dramatic change for the worse though there is no refuting things are on a downward trajectory. Of everything we talked about doctor is most impressed by the results of my using RC (radio control) flying as a way to exercise my brain. I started flying again because I knew the intensity of the concentration necessary to fly these models.

I have also jumped into RC helicopters with both feet. In recent months I began flying the large helicopters that are about 4-feet-long and capable of aerobatics that would leave a real helicopter in a smoking heap on the ground someplace. All that capability in the air also means that the concentration is much higher than when flying an airplane because the helicopter can fly in any direction in any attitude. That makes maintaining orientation far more of a challenge.

I am not able to get to the flying field nearly as much as I would like because we have but one car and hitchhiking is still a dumb idea, especially carrying large helicopters and airplanes. But when I do get out there I try to make a day of it. During one of these marathon flying days I was talking with a friend about how I feel better the longer I am out there. By better I mean there is less stammering while I am trying to find a word or name. Nearer the end of the day I am able to have a more normal conversation and come up short on words far less. He said that he could see that difference that very day. He said my conversation improved dramatically between the morning and afternoon.
Some wonder why I am putting so much emphasis on RC flying rather than seeking out other more mainstream treatment modalities. The simple fact is that there are none that anyone in a position to know can indicate. Because I do not have a bullet wound or other visible injury it’s harder for people to understand how Alzheimer’s can have such an impact on a person. I can almost pick out the people around me who have had a close relative or friend with Alzheimer’s. They understand and can see how RC flying could be beneficial.

The thing about flying RC is that when you think you have it handled you can do something to complicate it and make the mind work a little harder.
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I continue the Aricept therapy at the same dosage. It is likely that I will continue this medication the rest of my life and that is OK. It is not causing any side effects so there is no reason not to keep it up. I am becoming aware that people not involved in Alzheimer’s think Aricept is a cure even though most know that there is no cure. I think it is harder for people to understand taking a drug just because it might slow the progress of a disease. There are lots of very talented scientists searching for a better drug or treatment but it is unlikely that those efforts will benefit those of us already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But, I guess stranger things have happened.

So, I keep on working as much as I can and flying whenever can and hoping to mysteriously win the lottery which is more likely than my beating Alzheimer’s. Flying RC aircraft does give me some relief however fleeting that might be. I doubt being able to fly a helicopter does anything to improve my odds of winning the lottery so for the time being you are more likely to find me at the flying field than the gas station buying lottery tickets.

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