Category Archives: memory

Good every day habits to keep your memory in good shape – Harvard

As a senior citizen, I am aware of the aging process going on in both my body and my brain. I exercise to help preserve both. Here are some super suggestions from Harvard HEALTHbeat on bolstering the memory aspect of your brain.

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Your daily habits and lifestyle — what you eat and drink, whether you exercise, how stressed you are, and more — affect your mental health every bit as much as your physical health. A growing body of research indicates that regular exercise and a healthful diet can help protect your memory from aging-related decline. Continue reading

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5 Ways to keep your memory sharp – Harvard

Regular readers know that I am a senior citizen; will be 77 in January. So, I have a lot of senior friends. We have all experienced ‘senior moments’ when we find our memory becoming slightly elusive. Because my family has had Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia I am particularly sensitive to any brain stuff. So I was impressed with the suggestions that Harvard brought forward regarding enhancing our memory.

The way you live, what you eat and drink, and how you treat your body can affect your memory just as much as your physical health and well-being. Here are five things you can do every day to keep both your mind and body sharp.

1. Manage your stress. The constant drumbeat of daily stresses such as deadline pressures or petty arguments can certainly distract you and affect your ability to focus and recall. But the bigger problem is an ongoing sense of anxiety — that can lead to memory impairment. If you don’t have a strategy in place for managing your stress, protecting your memory is one reason to get one. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and a “mindful” approach to living can all help.

I have posted a number of times on stress. You can find them by searching s t r e s s in the box at the right. If you want one excellent example check out: Super tools for handling stress.

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Does Eating Fish Help Memory?

A diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients commonly found in fish, may cause your brain to age faster and lose some of its memory and thinking abilities, according to a study published in the print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“People with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids had lower brain volumes that were equivalent to about two years of structural brain aging,” said study author Zaldy S. Tan, MD, MPH, of the Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and the Division of Geriatrics, University of California at Los Angeles.

For the study, 1,575 people with an average age of 67 and free of dementia underwent MRI brain scans. They were also given tests that measured mental function, body mass and the omega-3 fatty acid levels in their red blood cells.

SelfNutrition Data lists the following foods as high in Omega-3 fatty acids: In order of importance: based on 200 calorie serving:
Flaxseed oil is the highest with 12,059 mg.
Flax seeds have 8,543 mg.
Fish oil, salmon contains 7828 mg.
Chia seeds yields 7164 mg.
Agutuk, fish with shortening has 6851 mg.
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Physical Activity Improves Memory in Seniors – Boston University Study

There are few things more gratifying than seeing some authoritative source come out with findings that confirm something that I have been saying for some time. Just two days ago I posted Does Prevagen Really Improve Memory?

This was my attempt to protect innocent senior citizens who might have experienced senior moments and feared they had to run to the drugstore and buy this drug to protect their aging brains.

Also, check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

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Now comes this press release from Boston University:

“Could staying physically active improve quality of life by delaying cognitive decline and prolonging an independent lifestyle? A new study has found that older adults who take more steps either by walking or jogging perform better on memory tasks than those who are more sedentary.

“The study examines the relationship between physical activity, memory and cognition in young and old adults. It appears online in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

“The study included 29 young adults (ages 18-31) and 31 older adults (ages 55-82) who wore a small device called an ActiGraph, which recorded information including how many steps each took, how vigorous the steps were and how much time it involved.

Participants also completed neuropsychological testing to assess their memory, planning and problem-solving abilities. In addition to standardized neuropsychological tasks of executive function (planning and organization abilities) and long-term memory, participants engaged in a laboratory task in which they had to learn face-name associations.

“The researchers found that older adults who took more steps per day had better memory performance. The association between the number of steps taken was strongest with a task that required recalling which name went with a person’s face—the same type of everyday task that older adults often have difficulty with. In young adults, the number of steps taken was not associated with memory performance.

“According to the researchers these findings demonstrate that the effects of physical activity extend to long-term memory—the same type of memory that is negatively impacted by aging and neurodegenerative dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. ‘’Our findings that physical activity is positively associated with memory is appealing for a variety of reasons. Everyone knows that physical activity is a critical component to ward off obesity and cardiovascular-related disease. Knowing that a lack of physical activity may negatively impact one’s memory abilities will be an additional piece of information to motivate folks to stay more active,” explained corresponding author Scott Hayes, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and the Associate Director of the Neuroimaging Research for Veterans Center at the VA Boston Healthcare System. Continue reading

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Dietary Flavanols Reverse Age-Related Memory Decline

“When we imaged our research subjects’ brains, we found noticeable improvements in the function of the dentate gyrus in those who consumed the high-cocoa-flavanol drink,” says lead author Adam M. Brickman, PhD, an associate professor of neuropsychology at the Taub Institute.

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Dietary cocoa flavanols—naturally occurring bioactives found in cocoa—reversed age-related memory decline in healthy older adults, according to a study led by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) scientists. The study, published in the advance online issue of Nature Neuroscience, provides the first direct evidence that one component of age-related memory decline in humans is caused by changes in a specific region of the brain and that this form of memory decline can be improved by a dietary intervention.

As people age, they typically show some decline in cognitive abilities, including learning and remembering such things as the names of new acquaintances or where one parked the car or placed one’s keys. This normal age-related memory decline starts in early adulthood but usually doesn’t have any noticeable impact on quality of life until people reach their fifties or sixties. Age-related memory decline is different from the often-devastating memory impairment that occurs with…

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6 Things That Improve Your Memory

Some helpful ideas here on building up the old memory muscles.
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Regular readers know that I feel strongly about keeping the brain as well as the body healthy. Please check out my Important Facts About your Brain (and Exercise) for further details.

Tony

Our Better Health

Posted by Casie Terry

What’s worse than not being able to remember something when it’s right on the tip of your tongue? It’s infuriating. And worse, it only happens more frequently as the years pass. But, luckily, there are certain foods, supplements and tricks that can help you sharpen your memory and keep it way. Here are six easy ways to start improving your memory now!

1. Coconut Oil: Researchers are growing more and more optimistic about the relationship between coconut oil and memory preservation. One prominent researcher, Dr. Mary Newport, discovered that coconut oil showed exceptional promise with regards to dementia and Alzheimer’s prevention, as the medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil fuel certain brain cells that have a difficult time utilizing carbohydrates, the brain’s main energy source. (Read more about coconut oil and it’s benefits for brain health)

2. DHA from Fish and Fish Oil: While the brain’s…

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A Memory Aid for Seniors: Laughter

“It’s simple, the less stress you have, the better your memory,” one of the study’s authors, Lee Berk, said in a Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology news release. “Humor reduces detrimental stress hormones like cortisol that decreases memory [brain cells], lowers your blood pressure and increases blood flow and your mood state. The act of laughter — or simply enjoying some humor — increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in the brain, which provides a sense of pleasure and reward.

Cooking with Kathy Man

Humor and laughter may help combat memory loss in the elderly, a new study suggests.

Previous research has found that the stress hormone cortisol can harm memory and learning ability in older adults. This new study examined whether mirth might reduce the damage caused by cortisol.

Researchers showed a 20-minute humorous video to a group of healthy seniors and a group of seniors with diabetes. These groups were compared with a group of seniors who didn’t see the video.

The two groups that watched the funny video showed significant decreases in cortisol levels and greater improvements on memory tests, compared to the group that didn’t see the video. The diabetes group showed the largest decrease in cortisol levels, while the healthy group had the greatest improvement on memory tests.

The study was to be presented Sunday at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego. Research presented at meetings should be…

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Green Tea Boosts Your Brain

I have been singing the praises of green tea for some time now. You can read further on this wonderful drink in the following posts:
Green Tea for St. Patrick’s Day and Every Day

Dr. Oz on Chia Seeds and Green Tea

Green Tea Helps to Fight the Flu
How Healthy is Tea Drinking?

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

Green tea is said to have many putative positive effects on health. Now, researchers at the University of Basel are reporting first evidence that green tea extract enhances the cognitive functions, in particular the working memory. The Swiss findings suggest promising clinical implications for the treatment of cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders such as dementia. The academic journal Psychopharmacology has published their results.

In the past the main ingredients of green tea have been thoroughly studied in cancer research. Recently, scientists have also been inquiring into the beverage’s positive impact on the human brain. Different studies were able to link green tea to beneficial effects on the cognitive performance. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this cognitive enhancing effect of green tea remained unknown.

Better memory

In a new study, the researcher teams of Prof. Christoph Beglinger from the University Hospital of Basel and Prof. Stefan Borgwardt from the Psychiatric University…

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How to Improve Your Memory – Harvard

The relationship between physical and mental health is very important and one of my favorite topics. I have posted about it numerous times. I have a history of  Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family and want very much to escape the ravages of a brain aging in an unhealthy manner.

Now comes Harvard Medical School with a new study on using everyday habits to keep your memory in good shape.


“A growing body of research indicates that regular exercise and a healthful diet can help protect your memory from aging-related decline.”

Music to my ears.

Harvard Healthbeat says:
“Physical fitness and mental fitness go together. People who exercise regularly tend to stay mentally sharp into their 70s, 80s, and beyond. Although the precise “dose” of exercise isn’t known, research suggests that the exercise should be moderate to vigorous and regular. Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, stationary bicycling, water aerobics, and competitive table tennis. Vigorous activities include jogging, high impact aerobic dancing, square dancing, and tennis.
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What is a Defense For an Aging Brain?

One of the major concerns among the seniors in my acquaintance is declining mental functions. When the Healthy Transitions Program® at Northwestern Memorial had a talk on Alzheimer’s, it was to a packed auditorium. I confess that I share this concern, too, because of the dementia and Alzheimer’s in my family.

Gro Amdam an Arizona State University professor says, “We show that social relationships can heal older brains.”

Professor Gro Amdam, led a 15-member team of scientists from ASU and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences on a three-year research project studying honeybees and trying to turn back the clock on aging, according to AZ central.com.

Amdam’s research showed that the brains of older honeybees turned back the clock when they began caring for baby bees, a task usually done by younger bees.

Such social interventions – how you deal with your surroundings – could be used to treat or slow dementia in humans.

“The older bees who cared for the babies significantly improved their ability to learn new things. Scientists also found molecular changes in their brains, including higher levels of brain proteins that can heal cells. The bees that continued to forage did not show any positive change in brain function, “AZcentral reported.

Older people could slow, and perhaps even overturn, some aspects of brain aging by enjoying social activities that they did when they were younger, she said. Taking care of children may have particularly positive effects, but other activities, such as imaginary play, starting a band or engaging in cooperative two- or multi-player video games, may have similar benefits, Amdam said.


I love the idea of playing. I wrote a post for my blog Willingwheeling about some acrylic design shapes that I ‘play’ with. Please understand that this is pure play. It is not like doing crosswords or sudoku puzzles in an effort to slow aging. Those only build skill at crosswords or sudoku, they don’t grow working memory.

The study above was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, Pew Charitable Trusts and the Research Council of Norway.

Tony

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Siri For Seniors

I am sure by now that you have seen Martin Scorcese in the Apple ad on TV using Siri in the back seat of a taxi checking his schedule, rejigging it and asking how’s the traffic, then telling the driver to change course. I don’t know if that is literally accurate or there is some poetic license there as it appears to be a light-hearted take.

I have been impressed with Siri since its introduction, but haven’t been able to experience it till this past week when my iPhone 5 was delivered. As soon as I got it set up I said to Siri, “What is the betting line on the Ravens game this Thursday?”

After a momentary wait, she answered, “The odds are in favor of the Ravens by 12 points.” It was love at first byte.

What a magnificent tool to have at your fingertips. All manner of information is just a Siri-query away. Apple says on its website, “Siri makes everyday tasks less tasking. It figures out which apps to use for which requests, and it finds answers to queries through sources like Yelp and WolframAlpha. It plays the songs you want to hear, gives you directions, wakes you up, even tells you the score of last night’s game. All you have to do is ask.”
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Who Are These Guys? It’s Not Butch and Sundance

I’ve actually never seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but I have seen the clip where that question, who are those guys, is asked. And I’m always reminded of that when I see old photos of myself.

Who are these guys? It’s Tony and I, along with his date, at an event in either 1983 or 1984… a long,. long time ago…

Tony sent me this old photo of me and him for my new book, Always Be Job Hunting, which is finishing up production changes and should be available soon on Amazon. It’s a photo of us, likely around Christmas 1983, when we both worked for Reuters here in Chicago. The woman in the picture was Tony’s date.
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Concord Grape Juice Helps Aging Brains -Tufts

A group of individuals, average age 76, who suffered mild cognitive impairment (MCI), benefitted from drinking Concord grape juice, according to the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Update.

“Researchers from the University of Cincinnati and grape-juice producer Welch Foods tested Concord grape juice versus a placebo beverage on 21 volunteers, average age 76, suffering mild cognitive impairment. The amount of juice varied with the weight of participants, so a 120-pound person received 12 ounces daily while a 200-pound participant drank 21 ounces a day. After 16 weeks, those in the grape-juice group scored better on tests of memory than those drinking the placebo. MRI testing showed greater activation in key parts of the brain, suggesting increased blood flow. The research supports 2006 findings at Tufts suggesting that Concord grape juice, which is high in polyphenol compounds, reversed brain aging in rats.”

We discussed challenges to the brain as we age in October.

I feel strongly that the best defense against cognitive impairment in general and memory loss in particular is exercise. Only exercise sends fresh oxygen to the brain and actually contributes to the brain’s growth by creating new cells.

Last May I wrote Memory Loss is Not Inevitable for Seniors.

Finally, please check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits.)

Tony

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Dementia Seen Rising Sharply by 2030

Cases of dementia and all the social and financial burdens involved are set to rise sharply in the coming decades as life expectancy and medical care improve in the developing countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as reported by the Associated Press.

In 2010, some 35.6 million people suffered from dementia, but that figure will likely double to 65.7 million by 2030, the WHO said Wednesday.

“The numbers are already large and are increasing rather rapidly,” said Dr. Shekhar Saxena, the head of WHO’s mental health division.

As regular readers know, I entertain strong feelings about dementia as my mother suffered from it and my aunt died of Alzheimer’s. The idea “Old people forget a lot” seems to be burned into the peoples’ brains. A recent episode of ABC-TV’s Modern Family had a number of jokes about old people not being able to remember well. It seems to have become one of the enduring cliches of our culture. And, not a very kind one, I think.

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Can Exercise Help Me To Learn?

“Exercise helps you to learn on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus,” so says Spark, the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. Author John J. Ratey, M.D., is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Besides, Spark, he also wrote A User’s Guide to the Brain among other books.

The hippocampus plays a major role in the consolidation of information from long term memory and short term memory. So, clearly, exercise plays an important role for seniors who are concerned about their memory failing in their latter years.

One distinction needs to be made here. You can’t learn difficult material while you are exercising because blood is shunted away from the prefrontal cortex and this hampers your executive function. Dr. Ratey quotes a study of college students who were working out on treadmills and exercise bikes at a high rate. They performed poorly on tests of complex learning. “However blood flow shifts back almost immediately after you finish exercising, and this is the perfect time to focus on a project that demands sharp thinking and complex analysis.”

He enumerates an experiment that was done on 40 adults aged 50 to 64. They were asked to do one 35 minute treadmill session at either 60 percent or 70 percent of maximum heart rate. Afterwards, they were asked to list alternative uses for common objects, like a newspaper. It is used for reading, but can be used to wrap fish, line a bird cage, etc. Half of the group watched a movie and the other half exercised. They were tested three times, before the session, immediately after the session and then 20 minutes later. The results of the movie watchers showed no change, but the runners improved their processing speed and cognitive flexibility after just one session. “Cognitive flexibility is an important executive function that reflects our ability to shift thinking and to produce a steady flow of creative thoughts and answers as opposed to a regurgitation of the usual responses. The trait correlates with high performance levels in intellectually demanding jobs.” The doctor recommends going for a short, intense run at lunchtime ahead of an important brain-storming session at work.

spark-book I have enjoyed Dr. Ratey’s book and recommend it to readers of the blog. You can get a look at the book on the Amazon website and purchase it from there if  you like it.

As regular readers know, I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and my mother suffered from dementia in her final years. I am a total believer in this exercise-learning hypothesis. If I don’t ride my bike every day, I manage a five mile walk, climb 30 flights of stairs, or take a trip to the health club. I ain’t sittin’ around doin’ nothin’.

I have repeated the phrase, Use it or Lose it time and again in this blog. In this case, using the body promotes healthy mental processes as well as good physical results.

Tony

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Does Forgetting Things Mean I am Coming Down With Alzheimer’s?

Memory starts declining when we reach our 60’s. It happens to everyone. So, forgetting your car keys doesn’t necessarily mean that you have Alzheimer’s.

As regular readers know, I am very sensitive to dementia in general and Alzheimer’s in particular having lost two family members who were afflicted. To clarify: Dementia is not a disease but a group of different diseases characterized by the gradual worsening of cognitive abilities. Dementia is seen across all ethnic groups and increasingly so with advancing age. Among 65–69-year-olds, about two percent are afflicted, with this figure doubling for every five years of age. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia and accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

Alzheimer’s doesn’t happen overnight. For that reason it is worthwhile to have your memory tested so that you have a baseline to compare. So says, Sandra Weintraub, Ph.D., speaking to the Northwestern Memorial Healthy Transitions Program®.

There is no 100 percent accurate test for Alzheimer’s while the patient is alive. Only an autopsy can confirm that there was Alzheimer’s in the brain, Dr. Weintraub said. Presently, 90 percent of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s actually have it post-mortem.

Dr. Weintraub offered several interesting statistics on the disease. Alzheimer’s strikes African Americans more than Hispanics and the least likely to get it are Caucasians. In addition, more women suffer from it than men. She said there was no explanation for this breakdown at present.

One of the keys to memory loss and Alzheimer’s is self-awareness, according to Dr. Weintraub. If a person forgets their keys and worries about it, that is normal. However, if a person forgets their keys and doesn’t know it, that is more troublesome. Likewise, entering a room and forgetting why the person went there can happen to a normal person. However, a person who might be beginning Alzheimer’s would not remember that he had come for a reason.

Dr. Weintraub offered a number of answers to the question: Why do we forget?

She said that seniors don’t multitask as well as they did when they were younger. There can be distractions. Hearing loss plays a part as well as fatigue and amnesia.

On the emotional side, she offered medications as a reason, metabolic disorders, sensory loss and brain disorders, like stroke or tumor.

In conclusion, Dr. Weintraub suggested a visit to a cognitive neurology center and getting a brain checkup. That way, a patient can detect symptoms of concern as well as identify abnormalities for one’s age.

Tony

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