No amount of remodeling to your home is going to matter if you can not hold on to your memory as you age in place. In keeping up with the latest research on stalling off dementia and curing Alzheimer’s, I have to keep my critical thinking skills in tact. Fresh from a lecture last week on brain health, I was having a feeling of deja vu.
I am always looking for a more direct explanation and/or an equally practical approach that people could use while waiting for the spirits of big Pharma to get with it. We have heard or read the drill: moderate exercise, eat healthy and stay social. AARP has a five pillar program that is a bit vague: move, discover, relax , nourish, and connect. Then of course there is a scoring program to go with it.
But I wanted more than that. From all the statistics, the boomer generation is supposed to be staring straight in the abyss of a memory loss epidemic. Not by percentage of population effected, but by sheer numbers because there are more of us. So I tend to be critical and somewhat suspicious and ready to rant about any program that leads to marketing pills or a packaged program.
Thankfully, what I listened to last week was a more direct pitch to the plate. Dr Majid Fotuhi, of John Hopkins Medicine, has written a book called, The Memory Cure. He told credible success stories of reversing even moderate dementia. The crux of the lecture was to clearly make us “remember” the importance of part of a small part of the brain’s anatomy. The hippo campus is a small seahorse shaped section in the center of your brain. That is where our memory lives and dies. Yes, there is still the fate of genetic early onset Alzheimer’s and other body dementia’s. But nurturing, for lack of better word, that part of your brain can have a huge impact.
Other articles collaborate that as we age , the hippo campus can shrink 2% a year. If we follow brain health recommendations we can make it grow up to 2% a year. I call that a draw, better than loss.
So with a promise to review his book and hoping I am not stepping on proprietary toes , I would like to share Dr Fotuhi’s six ways to sharpen your brain.
WALKING: Here is the essence of the lecture. Walking a mile a day reduces risk of memory loss by 48%, or 45 min four times a week. As always consult your physician before starting an exercise program.
EATING: Eating right includes consuming fish (fresh water fish) or 1000mg of Omega 3. Big deal- supplements work but only if you also exercise. Throw in some dark chocolate, blueberries and turmeric…yum.
LEARN NEW THINGS: He recommended golf lessons! Find something new and practice it.
SLEEP: If you are not sleeping well, get tested for sleep apnea which is a memory killer. He spoke specifically about sleep apnea but also guard against insomnia.There is a difference.
MEDITATE: Take time to meditate. I could never sit still for this, but will try again.
HAVE A PURPOSE: Be engaged in your community.
Now you also have to simultaneously avoid depression, obesity and too much stress. So it really is a 9 point plan, but if you do the first 6, you can avoid those other memory robbers.
Think of your age as being at a crossroads where you can help preserve that vital piece of brain anatomy or you can let it slide. Literally keep that 2% rule in your head while you try and keep up with the above.
I am going to start a group (look for the seahorse) on the group section of this website called the 2% solution. I hope that people will register for the website and join the group so we can communicate and encourage each other.
*Dr Majid Fotuhi is with John Hopkins , Neuro Core Brain Center. He has written several books, I will be reviewing The Memory Cure as soon as I can.