Archive for November, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Cover of "Attitudes of gratitude"

Cover of Attitudes of gratitude

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving 2010 in the United States. No matter how challenging a situation we may be in, such as caring for someone with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, we all have something to be grateful for. Sometimes it’s just conscious awareness of our surroundings that can wake us up to gratitude in our life.

A good friend of mine gave me a book, Attitudes of Gratitude — How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life. It’s a small book, but not one to read at one sitting. I enjoy reading one “thought” just before a quiet meditation. The late Ardath Rodale of Prevention magazine suggested that readers count the number of times they say “thank you” during the day. By turning our attention to it, we will probably increase the number of times we say “thank you.”

Many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving with a traditional meal of turkey and all the trimmings and pumpkin pie. On CNN news, it was suggested that you use a saucer-size plate. This video also gave other suggestions to make your Thanksgiving healthier. There are so many “makeover” recipes that you can find at various Web sites on the Internet. Do you have a favorite “makeover” healthy recipe that you love? Please share it.

As much as many of us will try to control our eating, it will be difficult. My husband and I have received two invitations for Thanksgiving — lunch and dinner — so I will have my digestive enzymes handy to assist my digestive system. I thank all of you for your support and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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Second Anniversary — noranagatani.com

This week I celebrate my second anniversary with noranagatani.com. It’s been an awesome experience and mind-boggling when I think about people who have connected with me via comments, phone calls, and e-mails. I’m also grateful for the wonderful contributing authors.

Using the tagline, “Helping Seniors Live Happily Ever After,” has enabled me to cover a variety of topics, but what I’ve cared most about is the health of my generation. If you still haven’t caught on to exercising, it’s important that you do.

Granddaughter

I’ve mentioned being retired — it’s been almost five years now — and what fun to experience so many new things. Topping the list is becoming a grandma. What a delight! I’ve also been a “Cellular Response” practitioner for almost a year and how gratifying to see people feeling good.

Now I’m taking it a step further and I’ve developed a program to have seniors and baby boomers take charge of their own health. So I’m working with seniors and baby boomers who are struggling to find enough time to care for their aging bodies and would like to feel as though they are in their twenties again, except with better judgment. Know any senior who would do anything and pay anything to feel more energetic? Give me a call to find out more and get in on my no-cost pilot program. I’m looking for volunteers from anywhere in the United States. Call any time — 703.825.8384. I’d love to help!

Brain Rules: Part II

In my last post I introduced a wonderful book by John Medina, Brain Rules. I talked about his first chapter, the importance of exercise because it boosts brain power. In this post, I explore his Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.

In 1965, a 17-year old made the Guinness Book of World Records by not sleeping for 11 straight days. He became irritable, forgetful, nauseous and after five days he was actively hallucinating, became severely disoriented, and paranoid. He looked as though he had Alzheimer’s disease. In the last four days of the experiment, he lost motor function, his fingers trembled, and his speech slurred. However, on the final day he was able to beat scientist William Dement, who was studying him, at pinball for 100 consecutive times. Dement is often called the father of sleep research.

I used to think that many seniors don’t sleep well at night and therefore always needed a nap during the day. However, it appears that the biological drive for an afternoon nap is universal. The “nap zone” is literally fatal: More traffic accidents occurring during it than at any other time of day.

We know that lack of sleep hurts learning and cognitive skills. But it also affects other bodily functions:

  • ability to utilize food consumed falls by about one-third
  • ability to make insulin to extract energy from glucose falls dramatically
  • body’s stress hormone levels rise in an increasingly deregulated fashion
  • accelerate the aging process

Medina points out, “The bottom line is that sleep loss means mind loss. Sleep loss cripples thinking in just about every way you can measure thinking.” The amount of sleep each person needs varies, but we know for sure that it’s needed and we can certainly function a lot better by getting our requisite amount of sleep plus a power nap. Perhaps we’ll even have fewer “senior moments” and slow down our aging.

For previous posts that mentioned “sleep,” type “sleep” in the search box in the upper right corner.

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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.