Monday, February 8, 2010

Aging Doesn't Necessarily Mean Alzheimer's

Ever have one of those days when you go into a room and forget why? Have you ever started writing a sentence and forgotten the second half? OR, have you ever forgotten to post your blog? I can say yes to all of these questions. ***This is me blushing and hanging my head.***

It scares me.

Why? Because I come from a family with a history of dementia in all its forms. So each time I forget something, I wonder if perhaps this is the start of IT. Will I turn into the quirky lady from next door who forgets to put on her pants before going outside? Ohhhh, I hope not!

My hope came in the form of an article by Dr. Doraiswamy in the AARP magazine (Hey, we get it for the great articles). She says that in some ways the healthy brain gets stronger with age, and that accumulated knowledge and expert skills increase as you get older. WHEW!!!

The good doctor says that if we have healthy habits we can all maximize our brain health. It’s a good idea, don’t you think???

So, here are her suggestions for brain strengthening activities:

Live an active life. Do puzzles. Don’t smoke. Work or volunteer. Exercise at least once a week. (Those don’t sound too horrible, now do they?)

Here are some more of her suggestions:

1. Walk and talk—find a walking partner, study a topic, and discuss it on your walks. Mental stimulation, physical exercise, and social connection are key brain strengtheners.

2. Vary your routine—try a different grocer, join a new club.

3. Be a lifelong learner and don’t dabble. Sign up for as many classes as you can.

4. Play—pick games with several levels or difficulty.

5. De-stress with meditation, yoga, a walk: focus your mind and relax.

6. Sleep—your brain consolidates memories from your day during sleep.

7. Imagine—paint, write, visit new websites. ***this is me grinning***

8. Socialize and make new friends. Don’t be a loner—it lulls your brain.

9. Eat right—eat those fruits and veggies, whole grains and fish.

10. Keep blood pressure, weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol in check.

Now, the best part is this: The article tells the story of a man in his early 70’s who was struggling with calculations and his wife noticed he was cranky. They put him through a bunch of tests. He scored 30 out of 30 on a memory test and got 140 on an IQ test. They were stunned when the brain scan showed he had full-blown Alzheimer’s.

So, socialize—exercise—get mental stimulation, Alzheimer’s doesn’t always mean drooling in your lap. It’s good news for a change!


Peggy Shumway said...

Great article, Tina. My mom died last year after five years of suffering with aphasia. The doctors could never tell us what caused her illness, but she finally had two strokes that brought the wondering to an end. I often worry when I have bad weeks of forgetting at work. I pray constantly that my writing and researching will keep my mind healthy.

Tina Scott, the writing artist said...

Forgetting things is a worry. I'm excited to try a new regimin of things such as puzzles and exercise in hopes of keeping my memory fit.