Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Protection
Saturday, January 26, 2013 5 Comments
Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover
Hover before clicking for more info
Maintaining Cognitive Vitality
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
Our Worst Nightmare
How we hate the idea of losing our
hottie-bodies as we get older!
But that’s not the worst of it.
Probably the most frightening thing — for most of us old enough to truly understand that we will not live forever, anyway — is the idea that we might lose control of our MINDS as we age.
What strikes fear in our hearts is that we’ll lose the links to words, places, our fondest memories, the names of our children — the very things that define our sense of SELF.
Those who have lived with cognitive decline in an up close and personal fashion (in particular, the ravages of any of the dementias in a loved one), frequently report a back-of-the-mind concern that they are looking into a mirror of their future selves.
The first wave of Baby Boomers – that spike in the population statistics once Johnny came marching home from World War II – turned 65 last year.
With the third-act aging of more and more of the Boomers, this conversation will become more and more frequent, as those back-of-the-mind concerns rise to conscious awareness.
Take a D-E-E-P breath — you don’t HAVE to lose it as you age!!
Heads up younger readers: I know you wouldn’t wait until the day before the marathon to train for it. Same thing with healthy brain aging!
You can’t wait until decline begins to start doing anything about it if you want to experience the rosy finish you could expect if you begin to employ neuro-protective techniques NOW
(Some good news for the Boomers coming up, by the way –
it’s not too late to start turning things around!)
This article announces a new Series, explaining the functional trajectory of the healthy late-life brain, and debunking of the myth of “to be expected” age-related cognitive decline.
Those of you who are currently struggling to fit into a neurotypical mold will find a lot of information that will help you develop effective you-specific strategies to work around some of the things that give you fits and shut you down.
WHAT, not Why
Let’s start with what is lost when a loved-one begins the slide into dementia, what might be referred to as a list of symptoms.
- Memory loss
- Difficulty communicating
- Inability to learn or remember new information
- Difficulty with planning and organizing
- Difficulty with coordination and motor functions
- Personality changes
- Inability to reason
- Inappropriate behavior
Those of you who are following the Sleep Struggles Series might recognize that list as almost identical to some of the problems with .
With a bit of tweaking of terms (from the “impossible” end of the spectrum toward the ” struggles with” shades of darkness), those of you who are recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury [TBI] will recognize that list of symptoms as what you have been observing in your own behavior since your brain was injured.
Hey ADDers (and all of you who can’t recall a time when you weren’t dealing with what I refer to as Attentional Spectrum Dysregulations) — does anything on that list look familiar to YOU?
Does that mean that cognitive decline is already announcing itself as inevitable?
As we are learning from the oft-cited School Sisters of Notre Dame “Nun” Study — the longitudinal study of aging and Alzheimer’s disease funded by the National Institute on Aging — even some of those individuals discovered, on autopsy, to have what used to be accepted as “the Alzheimer’s identifiers” (senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles), managed to escape the behavioral devastation of the disease.
Others had only recently begun to exhibit signs of mental decline in the year or two before their deaths (at 80 and beyond), despite brains that would have predicted a significantly earlier onset of dementia.
Along with hundreds of others in their order, these nuns had volunteered for a long-term study of aging and Alzheimer’s disease, hoping to provide evidence that might be used to teach the rest of us how to escape the worst ravages of this heartbreaking illness.
Thanks to their generosity of spirit, we know a lot more about it than we did, even five years ago.
About the Nun Study
The Nun Study is a unique resource for the study of brain diseases in the elderly. Going on seventeen years now, it was begun as a pilot study in 1986 by David Snowdon, Ph.D., with his colleagues at the University of Minnesota.
Using data collected from an order of nuns living in Mankato, Minnesota (the School Sisters of Notre Dame), they hoped to answer the following question:
“What factors in early, mid, and late life
increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
and other brain diseases such as stroke?”
With additional data from the 1990 expansion of the study to include six additional Notre Dame administrative centers (St. Louis, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, Dallas, and Wilton CT.), what is coming up in the analysis of the data is the answer to another, even more important question:
- What factors in early, mid, and late life seem to REDUCE the risk
of Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases?
- They are also in the process of analyzing cognitive factors that seem to determine longevity as well as quality of life.
- Data, tissue, and genetic material collected in this landmark study will, no doubt,
prove valuable to a great many meta-studies long into the future.
As explained on the Study’s website, FAQs linked HERE, there are 678 participating nuns.
When the study began, they were 75 to 102 years old, with an average age of 83. Over 85 percent were teachers.
- They represented a wide range of “oldsters” — from sisters in their 90s, highly functional with full-time jobs, to those twenty years younger who exhibited signs of severe cognitive disability, some bedridden, others barely able to communicate.
- Each agreed to participate in yearly assessments of cognitive and physical functionality, including medical exams with blood sampling to supply data for genetic and nutritional studies.
- They all agreed to donate their brains after their deaths, to be autopsied for neuropathologic studies.
- In addition, they granted full and ongoing access to the convent archives for data to help determine, “accurate risk factor data spanning the entire lifespan of the participants.”
The archives include “baptismal records, birth certificates, socioeconomic characteristics of the family, education documentation, autobiographies written in early, mid, and late life, as well as residential, social, and occupational data describing their mid and late lives.”
“The convent archives are particularly useful . . . because they contain . . . accurate information on early and mid-life risk factors [that is] difficult or impossible to obtain in most other studies on Alzheimer’s disease because individuals with this memory disorder cannot accurately recall their history.”
So what does all this indicate?
Other than the timeliness of the topic, and the fact that biology doesn’t HAVE to be destiny, science is not exactly sure.
- There is a great deal of speculation, and a few conflicting theories.
- There is ALSO quite a bit of agreement over what is likely to be helpful
(even though we’re not exactly sure why just yet).
We need to take a closer look at what’s going on up there in our brains to understand what goes wrong when our minds start to go — AS WELL AS how we can keep them healthy and vital as we age.
What THIS Series is designed to cover
Learning about what science has recently discovered about HOW your brain does what it does at different points in the human life-cycle will help you “Learn how to drive the very brain you were born with – even if it’s taken a few hits in the meantime™”
I plan to summarize more than a few resources that I have tripped across in my own study of brain-based content, information that those of you who stick with the series will LOVE me for sharing.
Let me be your “content concentrator” on this topic (and others) — kind of a “Cliff Notes” resource (with links to more, for those of you who have time to explore on your own). I am sharing what I discover AS I work through the process of the book I am writing on the topic.
If you will leave questions and comments below, I will shape the content to come so that it will illuminate what you are most interested in learning about or understanding FIRST.
Get it NOW, while its free for the taking – and SHARE BACK!
Remember to ring in with your thoughts and information too.
Leave me feedback (likes, stars and comments-below)
and help me spread the word
(or I might just change my mind ::grin::)
Graphics Gratitude: Man on Treadmill originally found on myrevsource.com
LittleNun — JohnnyAutomatic from OpenClipArt
As always, if you want notification of of new articles – in this Series, or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy
IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.
Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help (one-on-one,couples or group) with anything that came up while you were reading this article, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)
Related articles right here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
(in case you missed them above)
More articles in the Brain-Based Series
(links click ONLY once the article has posted – active links turn red on mouseover)
- Making the Connection: Brain-based Coaching Intro
- Brain-based Overview (part 2 in the series)
- Lessons from the TBI Communiy (TBI-part 1)
- Gathering the Tribe (TBI-part 2)
- Brain-Based References: Books on Mind and Brain
- Brain-Based Resources: Blogs & Websites
- Brain-Based References: Attentional Spectrum Books
- Booklist from the original ADD Coach Training
Other related Articles on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
- ADD Overview-101 (first in a Series)
- Sleep and Cognition (part of an ongoing Series)
- Got Memory? – Part I
- ABOUT Dr. Ginger Campbell’s Brain Science Podcast
- Brand New Brain-based resource
Related Articles around the ‘net
- Sally Cronin-Smorgasbord Health – Why laughter really is the best medicine
- Interview with Torkel Klingberg (sharpbrains.wordpress.com)
- Human architecture of the brain and cognitive load theory – so what? (ictenhancedlearningandteaching.com)
- Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease: 10 Things You Should Know (pbs.org)
- Aging-Induced Proteostatic Changes in the Rat Hippocampus Identify ARP3, NEB2 and BRAG2 as a Molecular Circuitry for Cognitive Impairment (plosone.org
- Help for BPD and the Prefrontal Cortex (authorjaenwirefly.wordpress.com)
- Hearing Loss May Speed Up Dementia (aarp.org)
- Sugar and Carbohydrates Linked to Impaired Brain Function in Elderly (diabeticmediterraneandiet.com)
- Urine test ‘could predict cognitive decline in diabetics’ (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Late-life depression associated with prevalent mild cognitive impairment, increased risk of dementia (sciencedaily.com)
- delaying dementia without pills (brainsidea.wordpress.com)
- Feeling lonely linked to increased risk of dementia in later life (sciencedaily.com)
- Cognitive Decline May Be Reversible with Brain-Boosting Vitamins (prweb.com)
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs may help prevent dementia (upi.com)
- Cognitive Impairment in Multiple Sclerosis (Cerebrum) (dana.org)
- The Cognitive Impact Of Mini-Strokes (medicalnewstoday.com)
What About Brain Training?
- Brain Exercise Benefits At Any Age (scientificamerican.com)
- BrainTrain Announces Cognitive Training Software Giveaway to Veterans Hospitals (prweb.com)
Organization’s Sites – info on Alzheimer’s and Healthy Aging
- Administration on Aging
- National Institute on Aging
- NINDS – National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Gerontological Society of America
- CDC Healthy Aging
- National Institutes of Health
- American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
- Alzheimer’s Association
- ADEAR — Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center
- Alzheimer Research Forum
- Alzheimer Society of Canada
BY THE WAY: Since ADDandSoMuchMore.com is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.