B is for Brain Power

B is for Brain Power

B is for Brain Power

“The key to every man is his thought. He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea which commands his own.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

If you think back to your childhood, you may realize how easy it is for a child to become labelled, slotted into a category, which often becomes self-fulfilling. This child is athletic and strong. This one is a dreamer. This one is creative and artistic. This child is shy, this one outgoing.  This one is smart, this one not so much. Looking back, I think I labelled myself very early as being more cerebral than physical

I was not particularly athletic, not artistically creative  nor highly sociable. Even as a child I was a dreamer, a voluminous speed reader. I lived in my head, always composing poems and stories. I clearly remember lying on the lawn in our garden, inhaling the aroma of fresh cut grass,  watching white feathery clouds moving across the blue African sky and mentally writing lines. These I would later write down in my notebook, like the one pictured above. More about that later. So early on I felt that the most important asset I had was my mind, and as I matured, intellectual pursuits rather than sports or art were what engaged me.

One of the deepest fears most aging adults have is of dementia. Almost 40% of adults over 65 experience some form of age associated memory impairment. We forget where we left our keys, we search for reading glasses which are perched on top of our heads. We forget details of events that occurred some time ago, or the names of new acquaintances. and we worry that we are “losing our minds”. However worrisome this may be, most often these are not warning signs of organic dementia but manageable moments of forgetfulness.Dementia, in contrast, refers to a group of symptoms caused by many different diseases affecting the brain. The pathology is progressive, and depending on the specific cause, in most cases irreversible. I’ll write more about this in a later post. 

But for now here are some tips from the Alzheimer Society, for coping with normal age-related memory difficulties. I find that I have naturally incorporated  most of them into my daily life. Things like keeping a routine and organizing information. I keep details in my on-line calendar  and review the plan for my day the night before. Have not missed an appointment yet.

Put items in the same spot. I put my keys in a vase on the table  by my front door. Most of the time anyway!

Repeat information and make associations. Repeat names when you meet people  and relate new information to things you already know. 

Teach others or tell them stories. I find this really helpful when learning a new sequence of steps in dance.I haven’t tried running through the alphabet in my head to help me remember a word or Involving my senses. ie. if you are a visual learner, visualize an item. I 'm not too good at that yet.

In my drive to preserve my “most important asset” I also do cryptic crosswords, use on-line brain training programs ... and study ballroom dancing, the best fitness activity for the brain. And most important  - get a good night's sleep 

How many of these brain power tools do you already incorporate into your daily life?

Alzheimer Society link