|Cats know how to sleep!|
So does hubby!
One of today's leading experts on brain health, Dr. John Arden tells it straight: there is no single remedy for maintaining “sharpmindedness” into old age. Nor can we prevent dementia, but we can learn how to interact and live our best lives no matter our situation.
Neuroplasticity of our brainsHe has done his research, for we know that our brains can be changed, if we change our behaviours. Just as we know that stopping smoking, for example, allows our lungs to heal and overcome the toxins smokers inhale. We know how complex our brains are, and that while toxins can cause cancer cells to grow, remember that some develop cancer through no discernible factors at all.
Frontal lobe, robbed of oxygen,
What I find comforting, in reading this book, is that as we shift from middle age into old age, is that we need to keep sharp in different ways than when we were employed, and to keep active in different ways.
Price: $27.95 CDN
If you are interested, as am I, in understanding our bodies, this is a good book for you. It explains the biochemical reactions in our brains as we age. It breaks down the research, and writes of the neurochemical changes that age brings. We can expect that our bodies wear out in certain ways, and we cannot necessarily prevent disorders, but we can do everything in our power to keep sharp by being active, volunteering, and paying attention to issues like cholesterol and diabetes.
Brain researchThe aging brain does change, despite all these ideal habits. Neurotransmitters and the neurochemistry of aging brains means that there are more mutations, neurons shrink, we lose myelin, and synapses. In our teenage years, we are creating synapses, and learning how to learn, forming neural pathways, which are later pruned in adulthood. In our later years, we develop and strengthen these old pathways. For example the brain uses some of the same pathways to process music as we do math. This is something I learned whilst doing action research for my classroom curriculum. In older age, we may not be able to prevent senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (which prevent blood from getting to the part of the brain which processes abstract thought). Be rest assured that healthy, active older adults develop issues, which cannot be prevented, but we can play our cards right by healthy living.
|PET scan shows brain function.|
When my students would ask why we were learning algebra, for example, I'd tell them we were building dendrites to make all learning faster, better and easier. For those who eschewed math, or for those who complain about what we teach in elementary school, remember you are building better brains for old age.
Activities for healthy living
|Dendrites connect the brain cells, allow us to 'think.'|
They cannot function if they are blocked by plaques.
- Education - Read and keep your brain active
- Diet - What you eat and drink directly affects your brain health
- Exercise - Starting a fitness routine is simpler than you think
- Relationships - The love of friends and family has a strong healing power
- Sleep - Get enough, but not too much, sleep
A few samples of Dr. Arden's tips for improving brain health include:
- Drink water even when you're not thirsty
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Laugh a lot
- Don't drink alcohol before going to bed
- Eat fish at least twice a week