Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Goal for 2008: Elders Take Care of Your Brain

You've heard that taking care of yourself can keep your brain sharp, and maybe even reduce your risk of Alzheimer's, but where do you begin? Follow these instructions to develop your personal plan for a healthy brain, and you'll be on your way to better brain health in no time.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: In 15 minutes or less, you can have your own personal plan for a healthy brain!

Here's How:

Make A Pledge
Take out a clean sheet of paper and write this at the top:
I, (fill in your name), pledge to put my head first when thinking about my health and well-being. I need a healthy, well-functioning brain in order to achieve overall health and wellness.

Assess Your Heart Health
Research has linked cardiovascular problems to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. It follows that what's good for your heart is good for your brain.

Write down each of these conditions:
Heart disease
High blood pressure

Now, next to each condition, place a P if you do not have the condition, or an A if you do. This means that you will either take active steps to Prevent or Address the condition.

Find Out Your Numbers
Several health "numbers" are indicators of heart and brain health. Keeping these numbers within healthy parameters can enhance brain functioning.

Write down your numbers for the following health indicators:

Cholesterol -- Should be less than 200 mg/dL
Blood sugar -- Should be less than 100 mg/dL (fasting)
Blood pressure -- Should be less than 120/80
Weight -- Assess your body mass index to see if your weight is within a healthy range
If any of your numbers are outside of a healthy range, take steps to correct them by talking to your doctor or clicking on the indicators.

Eat For Your Brain
Read the Alzheimer's Association's suggestions for adopting a brain-healthy diet. Then write down three foods you need to eat less of and three foods you need to eat more frequently.

Move For Your Brain
Physical activity enhances blood flow to the brain, which in turn nourishes brain cells so they can function more effectively. The kind of exercise you choose is not as important as whether you enjoy it and how often you do it. You should aim for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day (walking, yoga, gardening, and bicycling are all good examples).

Write down three kinds of exercise that you enjoy or would like to try. Also write down the best time of day for you to exercise, so you can schedule it in your daily planner.

Use Your Noodle
We used to think that generating new brain cells was impossible after reaching adulthood. Now we know that keeping the mind active can actually generate new brain cells and connections well into old age. This provides us with cognitive reserve so if Alzheimer's arises, we can better compensate for it.
The key to staying mentally active is to try new, novel things. Examples include reading, playing games, doing word puzzles, attending classes and plays, or starting a new hobby.

List two things you do now that keep you mentally active; then write down one new thing you want to try to engage your mind.

Stay Connected
Research has shown that those who stay socially active are less likely to develop Alzheimer's than those who are lonely or isolated. For maximum benefit, try to engage in social activities that also include physical and/or mental activity.
List two things you do now to stay socially active, such as participating in a club, volunteering, meeting friends for coffee, or traveling. Then list one new thing you want to try to connect with others.

Protect Your Brain
Research has linked traumatic head injury -- when the blow is strong enough to lose consciousness -- to an increased risk of Alzheimer's and other dementias. It's important to take precautions against head injury by wearing your seatbelt, wearing protective headgear when bicycling, horseback riding, etc., and making sure your home is fall-proof.
Write down one thing you are not doing now that you will start doing to protect your brain.

Quit Unhealthy Habits
Substance abuse can do irreparable damage to the brain as well as other bodily systems. Write down each of these unhealthy habits:
Excessive alcohol use
Illegal drug use
Prescription drug abuse

Now, next to each habit, place an A if you do not engage in it, or an E if you do. This means that you will either continue to Avoid the habit or take steps to Eliminate it.

Seal The Deal
At the bottom of your plan, write:
I will follow this plan to the best of my ability, refer to it frequently, and revise it as necessary, because enhancing my brain is an important way to achieve overall health.

Sign your plan and post it where you'll see it frequently. Congratulations! You're on your way to a healthier brain.


Now your "Goal for 2008 is set To Take Care of Your Brain". This exercise is must for all who are above 50 years of age.

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

1 comment:

Krishnaraj said...

Nidhi, I apologize that this comment does not pertain to Alzhiemers etc., which you write about. Still, bear with me, and read further.

While one feels great about the India Growth Story, there is a hidden tragedy -- a sort of India Death Story, unreported by the media. It is a story of social and environmental costs being quietly passed on by manufacturers, and frankly, society and environment are getting saturated.

An important social principle is violated by many manufacturing activities: While engaged in a profit-making activity, one must not leave a mess behind for the rest of society to clean up.

This principle can easily be understood as common decency. If I come to your house as a salesman in order to market something, I must clean up any mess that I make while selling my product.

But this principle is continually breached by manufacturers and marketers on a large scale in our country, and nobody even thinks of objecting!

Have you ever pondered how mineral water and soft-drink manufacturers who sell their product to you in a PET bottle take no further responsibility what happens to their non-biodegradable bottle? Most often, it ends up as litter in the environment, because the consumer simply does not know what to do with the bottle, other than tossing it away.
This is not how it should be. At the time of conceptualizing and designing the product, the manufacturer has the responsibility of thinking what will happen to the discarded packaging, or, in the case of non-consumables, to the product itself after its use. He must take the responsibility to create a safe avenue for its disposal or recycling.

This requires a mechanism to collect the empty container or used product. So he must set up that mechanism. For instance, the grocery shopkeeper may incentivate the consumer to return PET bopttles to him by initially charging a coupl;e of rupees as deposit for the bottle, which he returns when the consumer returns the bottle to him. These bottles can then be sent back to the company’s recycling facility. (This is how soft-drink bottles made of glass were returned to manufacturers until very recently, remember? We, the consumers, were OK with this system. So why the sudden urge to package everything in discardable materials?)

We should mobilize citizens to demand legislation that every manufacturer must repurchase/collect and recycle as many tonnes of raw material as he uses on a week-by-week basis. For example, if a mineral-water manufacturer uses ten tonnes of plastics per week to manufacture bottles, he MUST buy back ten tonnes of plastic scrap and safely recycle it.

Now think for a moment about used automobiles. Used cars and scooters in India are sold as second-hand vehicles, and then third-hand, fourth-hand. A second-hand vehicle may go from a metropolis to a small town or village. It keeps going further and further into the interiors as it ages, as its condition deteriorates and its market price dwindles. And then?

And then it is sometimes sold to a garage at a throwaway price, and this garage may salvage spare parts from it. ut what remains of this vehicle, including worn-out tyres, may lie around rusting and gathering dust for years and years on some deserted road. The tyres, when they are often burnt in winter for warmth, releasing black, acrid smoke and carcinogenic chemicals into the atmosphere.

Or it lies as a rusting eyesore in some building compound for many years as the last owner loses all motivation to either repair it or sell it.

Thus, every automobile manufacturer sells a product that turns into many hundred tonnes of junk — assorted metal, plastic, glass and rubber junk — after 6-8 years. They end up littering the beautiful countryside with this junk. Is this socially acceptable behaviour?

If one looks for solutions, they are not difficult to find. Legislation and regulations are the answer.

Automobile manufacturers must be required by law to buy back that many tonnes of metals, plastics, glass etc every week, and find ways to recycle them. The cost may be met by raising the market price of their product… but the responsibility to make the recycling activity happen MUST be fixed on the manufacturer of every product.

The same applies to tyres, batteries, plastic goods, newspapers, textiles, chemicals, auto-lubricant oils, etc. The list is long.

It is possible that this will make some manufacturing and marketing processes unviable. If so, this would mean that these economic activities were unviable in the first place, and were sustainable only by passing on hidden costs to the environment, to society and to consumers! Such activities must necessarily come to an end.

Many industrial activities are environmentally and socially subsidized to keep them economically profitable. Let us lobby governments to knock off that subsidy and see how many activities remain sustainable!

I propose peaceful demonstrations to compel industries to self-regulate, and legislators to pass laws:

Small groups of citizens shall collect the branded packaging material of various manufacturers from the environment, and delivering them in large bundles every week to their corporate offices. It belongs to them, right? So let them have it back!

A peaceful demonstration like this, sustained over some weeks, would make a powerful statement. I think this will make a powerful media impact as well… and thereby, an impact on the consciousness of people.

This would be the first step to making changes happen. Citizens, industry and government must first be made to acknowledge that there is a problem; then viable solutions will begin to emerge.

What say, fellow-citizens? I would appreciate your detailed responses to this idea.

Those who wish to join me in peaceful social action (as described) are urged to email me at