“Just took a class titled Brain Health.” I’m amazed how that simple, casual statement causes a listener’s ears to perk. Are we obsessed as a society with a fear that we will one day succumb to Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, lewy body dementia, mixed dementia, Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, Huntington’s disease and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome? Duh! Do ya think?
If we need to have that many mysterious names and sophisticated brain disease diagnoses, perhaps learning about them will prove useful later in life – or maybe right this moment.
It’s a popular topic. Google Alzheimers and Amazon will offer about 50+ suggestions for books on that topic. Or go see the movie Still Alice that took home a few Oscars. Today I read an ad in my church bulletin, placed by two mega large pharmaceutical companies. There’s a picture of a confused driver who asks, “Where was I going?” It continues: “Do you or someone you know have Alzheimers…? We’re looking for “volunteers…to help us find out whether an investigational medication will slow the rate of cognition and functional decline.”
Here is what I learned recently from a class I took (provided by my health insurance vendor – BC/BS of Arizona.) Now, I’m no expert on this topic, but I do have some pertinent facts you might find interesting:
- A Senior Moment (SM) occurs when a slower rate of thinking results in occasional mistakes such as missed words, that hang right before one’s mental ‘eyes’, but elude us. Doctor Carol Barnes at the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Arizona (Go Cats!) has some reassuring facts. “Aging is not a disease. Aging is a normal developmental process…. Fifty years ago, it was assumed that when we aged, we lost brain cells, our memory diminished and we became demented.” Current thought is that “…it’s not that we lose cells. What happens is brain plasticity and connections are altered which makes laying down of memories harder. So…aging is not a degenerative process. Your cognition, your memory, does change – but things like vocabulary actually get stronger as you age. You continue to collect words throughout your life.” How comforting.
- The Something More person also has slowed thinking but, due to the physical deterioration of the brain, the inability to record short term memories results in mistakes, frustrations, and ultimate withdrawal. There is no place to store new words or recall those already learned. Nuff for today’s post – more next time