With aging I have become overly sensitive to the F-word—- “Forgetting.” I meant to sandwich in a chance to have my photo taken with Truman, President Gnadinger’s dog. Was it “forgetting” that resulted in my not following through with my intent — or was it the fact that I was trying to squeeze that event into a time during which I was also proctoring an exam, writing a blog piece about brain health, monitoring email, and making sure that all students had the time they needed for the exam before the next group arrived.
I am well aware that nearly everyone who lives long enough experiences some cognitive decline. I am human. I am also quite familiar with that grey area of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — how to test for it, its relationship to dementia, how to compensate for it, and diagnostic guidelines for it (found here) .
According to Peter Rabins’ (University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health) 2018 White Paper on Memory (found here) it is estimated that 10 to 20% of Americans over 65 years of age have that condition with men more often affected than women and at earlier ages. Welcome, David, to your new reference group norms. Perhaps this is part of my motivation for continuing to surround myself with intellectually stimulating students — and playful, younger relatives.
In their presence I am younger. A number of studies (for example, this one: click here) suggest the preventative value of stimulating mental activities such as playing games, doing crafts, using a computer, and engaging in stimulation-rich social activities. Many studies have also found strong evidence for the value of age-appropriate strength training for global cognitive function (though not for memory). And I may have to start learning to dance ( see this link) or at least take up Tai Chi!
I have two playful partners in mind who always make me laugh when we dance or play together.
I have heard some of these preventative activities in my high school AP psychology course. It was interesting to see where some of these claims originated from. In another high school class of mine, intro to health professions, we watched a documentary about how psychologists are trying to prevent Alzheimer’s from progressing. One of the ways was to have the patient listen to music they grew up with. This not only helped them regain the forgotten memories, but it also increased their mood and spirit. I also liked the links you included in the article. They were easy to use and helped in improving the article’s validity.
Thank you for your thoughtful response.
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