Dementia Archives

Remembering Names

One of the biggest problems seniors often lament is remembering names. We recognize faces because that information has been registered in our subconscious minds, but remembering names is a different story. What’s your trick for recalling names that don’t come to you immediately? Going down the alphabet perhaps? David Perlmutter, MD, in The Better Brain Book, has an exercise that will help you to remember names immediately after being introduced and for an extended period after that. He says it should not take more than 10 minutes a day.

You will need a deck of cards and a phone book. Maybe your kids don’t have a phone book in their house, but surely you do.

  1. Each morning randomly select a name from the phone book; choose a card from the deck.
  2. Write down the first name selected from the phone book and the suit on the card.
  3. Say the name and the suit out loud after you write it down.
  4. Create a mental image of both the name and the suit being placed into your mental names file.
  5. After lunch try to recall both the name and the suit by creating a picture in your head of your names file and imagine yourself opening that file. Repeat after dinner. (If you were successful after dinner, but not after lunch, it counts as success).
  6. Do the above exercise daily for a week. Once you are successful for six out of the seven days, move on the to next step.
  7. Instead of writing down just the first name from the phone book, write the first and last name and pick one card from the deck.

Once you have mastered this exercise, remembering names should come to you easily. According to Perlmutter, the key to success is two-fold:

  • Say the person’s name out loud.
  • Visualize the name and the person and put it into your names file.

So the next time you meet this person, you’ll be greeting him or her by their name while the other person will be asking you for yours or have that puzzled look on their face trying to recall your name. Remembering names now comes easily to you. Let me know how this works for you.

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Last year The Canadian Press reported, “The prevalence of cognitive impairment was significantly lower in women aged 65 and older who reported they were physically active as teens than in those who were inactive in their teen years,” according to a study at the Heart and Stroke Foundation Centre for Stroke Recovery at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. Principal investigator Laura Middleton said, “If we want to optimally prevent dementia, it’s important to start physical activity as early in life as possible.”

There have been a number of studies showing the benefits of exercise to stave off dementia and cognitive impairment in our middle age years and later, but this study adds the dimension of the earlier in life the better. Hence, as seniors, we need to encourage our grandchildren to remain active.

Middleton worked on the project while she was at the University of California in San Francisco, and used data from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. She analyzed the responses of 9,704 women in four U.S. cities: Baltimore, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., and Monongahela Valley, Pa. The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Highlights include the following:

  • Women reported on their physical activity as teens, ages 30, 50, and late life.
  • People who were active as teenagers had a greater reduction in their risk of cognitive impairment compared to any of the other ages.
  • Prevalence of cognitive impairment in the women who’d been physically active in their teen years was 8.5 per cent, compared to 16.7 per cent among those who weren’t physically active as teens.
  • For those active versus inactive at age 30, prevalence of cognitive impairment at age 65 or older was 8.9 per cent compared to 12 per cent, and at age 50, 8.5 per cent versus 13.1 per cent.
  • Women who were inactive as teenagers and became active in later life still had a lower risk of cognitive impairment than those who remained inactive.

Louis Bherer, director of clinical research at the Montreal University Geriatric Institute, said most people in the field agree that physical activity is probably the most promising strategy to protect against cognitive decline, but he added that there are limitations to this study.

When a door is always in use, the hinges will never rust. ~Chinese Proverb. Let’s get moving to increase our gray matter.

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2011!

It’s been just over two years since I started this blog and what an enlightening journey it’s been. When I started it, I was writing two times a week and then cut down to once a week when I started aboutalz.com. Now, as the new year begins, I am in the process of developing a new program, Gracefully Age Program  (GAP), where I work with seniors and baby boomers who struggle to find enough time to take care of their aging bodies, but would like to feel like they are in their 20’s again … except with better judgment.

My clients and I work together on the goals to be accomplished. Currently, we are in a three-month pilot program, but the actual program starts this spring and will run for six months. I am developing resources for the program as well as joint ventures. My program will be unique in that as a Cellular Response energy healer, I will incorporate energy exercises which I find totally intriguing.

As my blog has pointed out for the past couple of years, we seniors need to take care of our bodies if we want to have a good quality of life ahead of us. As I observe seniors around me, so many of them have let their bodies deteriorate. They have no energy. They have no sparkle in their faces. They are in pain. Diseases are rampant. I felt a program like GAP could help people even more than what I am doing in my Cellular Response practice. But only people who are committed to do anything to have optimal health will succeed in such a program. We all know people who could benefit from such a program, but they are going to have to want it for themselves. I will be the link that will help them achieve their goals.

So, I need more time to spend on the next chapter of my retirement career of helping more people and therefore, I will be adding to my blog every other Wednesday instead of weekly. I’ll be back in two weeks.

I appreciate your friendship. Make 2011 the best year ever!

Brain Rules: Part I

Brain Rules by John J. Medina, PhD, is an intriguing and interesting book published in 2008. Dr. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant. He is the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. He also teaches at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in it Department of Bioengineering. In Brain Rules he talks about 12 principles of surviving and thriving at work, home, and school.

  1. Exercise: Exercise boots brain power.
  2. Survival: The human brain evolved, too.
  3. Wiring: Every brain is wired differently.
  4. Attention: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
  5. Short-term Memory: Repeat to remember.
  6. Long-term memory: Remember to repeat.
  7. Sleep: Sleep well, think well.
  8. Stress: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
  9. Sensory Integration: Stimulate more of the senses.
  10. Vision: Vision trumps all other senses.
  11. Gender: Male and female brains are different.
  12. Exploration: We are powerful and natural explorers.

Chapter 1 immediately caught my attention with exercise boosts brain power. So all of my writing about “moving” and all of the hours I spend in various forms of exercise should pay off. He answers the question: Is there one factor that predicts how well you will age? Before answering the question, he profiles two people he met on television — Jim and Frank.

Jim is in a nursing home — picture him in a nursing home, in a wheelchair, his eyes vacant, lonely, friendless staring into space. Most people would not want to spend their last years of life in this way. On another channel, the author meets Frank … Frank Lloyd Wright, that is. He was amazed at his use of language and the clarity of his mind. Wright completed the designs for the Guggenheim Museum (his last work) when he was 90 years old in 1957.

Jim or Frank — which lifestyle are you headed for? Medina says:

Put simply, if  you are a couch potato, you are more likely to age like Jim, if you make it to your 80s at all. If you have an active lifestyle, you are more likely to age like Frank Lloyd Wright and much more likely to make it to your 90s.The chief reason for the difference seemed to be that exercise imporved cardiovascular fitness, which in turn reduced the risk for diseases such as heart attacks and stroke.

He goes on to say that a lifetime of exercises can also do amazing things for cognitive performance in areas like long-term memory, reasoning, and problem-solving, but the area that’s not improved by exercise is short-term memory and certain types of reaction times. Also, over-exertion and exhaustion can also hurt cognition. So, folks, we continue with our “senior moments.”

Medina says, “Your lifetime risk for general dementia is literally cut in half if you participate in leisure-time physical activity. Aerobic exercise seems to be the key. With Alzheimer’s, the effect is even greater: Such exercise lowers your odds of getting the disease by more than 60 percent.” Now this is amazing — “… a 20-minute walk each day, and you can cut your risk of having a stroke — one of the leading causes of mental disability in the elderly — by 57 percent.”

Exercise opens up your blood vessels so it can feed your brain. In addition as the blood flows more freely, the body makes new blood vessels, which penetrate deeper into the tissues of the body.

He concludes the chapter by saying, “Our brains were built for walking — 12 miles a day! To improve your thinking skills, move.”

In order to have enough energy to exercise, we must get enough sleep. In Brain Rules: Part II, I talk about sleep.

Stress in Middle Age Could Lead to Dementia

Recently, Medical News Today reported that stress in middle age could lead to late life dementia. In this study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, almost 1,500 women were followed for 35 years and this is the first research in Sweden to indicate a link between stress and dementia. Stress has numerous definitions, but in this study, stress was defined as a sense of irritation, tension, nervousness, anxiety, fear, or sleeping problems lasting a month or more due to work, health, family or other problems.

Stress can be good or bad and the way you respond to a situation could also be a form of stress. We are constantly making choices and we can choose to stress ourselves or we can choose not to. For example, you can choose to get angry over something like catching all the red lights on the way to work when you’re already late or you can choose to ignore it or embrace and acknowledge it and move on. Many people like to blame others for their stresses, but only you can make that choice to be angry. I don’t know about you, but I know it’s not worth being angry. Life’s too short.

One of the things we know about dementia is that keeping your immune system strong is extremely important. Current Alzheimer’s disease research is targeting the immune system. What happens when you’re stressed?

  • Blood pressure rises
  • Breathing becomes more rapid
  • Digestive system slows down
  • Heart rate (pulse) rises
  • Immune system goes down
  • Muscles become tense

Over time, diseases may develop — diabetes, depression, obesity, tooth & gum disease, cancer, ulcers, etc. It’s been estimated that 90% of visits to doctors are stress-related! There are many Web sites devoted to stress and stress management. Click here or here for some ideas.

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