Constitutional Health Network:
Memory

A few years ago, my friend Sarah got the kind of news that most of us only have nightmares about—her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It was a terrible time for her. The woman who had loved her and cared for her all her life was slowly disintegrating before her eyes, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. No amount of medical care, love and tenderness, or even pleading with God made a difference. Dealing with dementia is, in many ways, like going through the stages of grief, and Sarah reacted as most people would. She bargained with God. She became angry and then depressed. And then, she was inspired to change her life. With the specter of someday facing the same fate in front of her, Sarah decided to fight back. She joined a gym and started exercising. She took supplements. She started meditating and took a yoga class after reading that these might help stave off dementia. She did puzzles and “brain teasers” in an effort to ...

Have you ever forgotten where you left your car keys? Walked into a room and realized you have no idea why you’re there? Misplaced your sunglasses only to find they’re sitting on your head? If you’re over 50 you may have found yourself making a sheepish comment about “senior moments” after doing one of these things.   It’s a phrase that’s crept into our vocabulary over the past few years, and it’s used to excuse or explain away those embarrassing little episodes of forgetfulness. We sigh and shake our heads and mutter “senior moment,” then shrug and go on, accepting the idea that once we pass 40 our memories naturally become less reliable. The older we get the more forgetful we’re likely to be. Or so popular wisdom says.   But sometimes popular wisdom is pretty dumb. Here’s the truth:   The whole idea of “senior moments” is a myth. There’s no such ...

We all forget things, no matter what our age. And in spite of the myth of the “senior moment,” recent studies have found that the “millennial” generation is actually more likely to be forgetful than their parents and grandparents. Nonetheless, lapses in memory can be worrying—particularly if you find them happening often. But don’t panic. There are lots of causes of forgetfulness, and most are easily remedied.   I’ve already discussed some of the things that affect your ability to stay focused, and many of them—like chronic stress and lack of sleep— overlap with memory issues. Today I’d like to talk about 4 things that can have a serious effect on your memory , and what you can do about them. Vitamin B12 deficiency Lack of B12 leads to shrinkage of your brain, particularly the hippocampus—the part of your brain involved in creating and storing memories. This is the part of your brain where ...

Not long ago, I read a news headline I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. It said, “Drug Companies ‘Giving Up’ on Alzheimer’s treatment.” Alzheimer’s disease has been the holy grail of brain diseases for Big Pharma—irreversible, untreatable, and devastating, the company that created an effective treatment stood poised to charge any amount of money they wanted for it. The fact that pharma giants like Pfizer were throwing in the towel and turning their back on the almost infinite money that could be made from a treatment made several things crystal clear. It underscored just how very little we know about the brain in general and about Alzheimer’s in particular. It underlined what I’ve been saying for years—that we’re coming at the problem of Alzheimer’s all wrong. Science has assumed—even in the face of evidence to the contrary—that Alzheimer’s symptoms are caused by the ...

We live in an age of wonders. For all of its faults — most being driven by the wealthy and powerful who are funding scientific research — science has made some truly astounding discoveries over the past half century. Imagine — we decoded the human genome, the very essence of what makes us human! After that, what other area could be half as exciting? As it turns out, the brain could. The brain has become the next frontier for serious scientific research. While Big Pharma and Big Medicine are investigating Alzheimer’s disease with an eye to which chemical compounds will put the most money in the most pockets, hard science has been looking at other aspects of the brain. And some pretty astounding things have been happening. Researchers from a company called 21st Century Medicine recently announced that they had successfully frozen and thawed an intact brain. While many new outlets erroneously reported that scientists had “frozen and revived” ...

Many people believe that sleeping poorly is a normal part of the aging process. However, according to the National Institute on Aging, “Many healthy older adults report few or no sleep problems.” Although sleep patterns do change as we age, waking up tired every morning due to sleep difficulties is far from normal.   We’ve all felt the effects of a fitful night of sleep - being unfocused and forgetful. But did you know that continued sleep deprivation leads to lasting cognitive issues? That’s right!   According to neuroscientists in a 2013 University of California, Berkeley study, lack of sleep can cause permanent cognitive deterioration. They found that as the quality of sleep declined so did the ability to retain lasting memories.   Chronic and acute sleep deprivation has a negative impact on many cognitive processes. There is a loss of attention and alertness. Memory is adversely affected. Response times are slower. ...

Many older adults joke about having “senior moments,” those times you forget why you went into the kitchen or can’t recall a word that is on the tip of your tongue. These moments occur due to natural aging processes within your brains. While you can’t stop aging, there are steps you can take to support healthy brain functions. Your Aging Brain The aging process causes changes throughout your body. Within your brain, these can affect memory and other activities. Specifically, as you age:     • Some parts of the brain shrink.   • There is a breakdown in the ability of one part of the brain to talk with another.   • Arteries narrow, which reduces blood flow to the brain.   • Some people experience plaque or minor swelling of the brain.   Each of these issues is normal in an older brain and often results in reduced brain ...

A few years ago, my friend Sarah got the kind of news that most of us only have nightmares about — her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It was a terrible time for her. The woman who had loved her and cared for her all her life was slowly disintegrating before her eyes, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. No amount of medical care, love and tenderness, or even pleading with God made a difference.    Dealing with dementia is, in many ways, like going through the stages of grief, and Sarah reacted as most people would. She bargained with God. She became angry and then depressed. And then, she was inspired to change her life.    With the specter of someday facing the same fate in front of her, Sarah decided to fight back. She joined a gym and started exercising. She took supplements. She started meditating and took a yoga class after reading that these might help stave off dementia. She did puzzles and "brain ...

Most articles on keeping your brain young and sharp all repeat the same handful of things:       •  Exercise     •  Lower your stress     •  Eat “healthy”     •  Play brain games     •  Get enough sleep   There are several reasons these things appear on nearly every list.   First, they really are important. Regular exercise has been shown to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s. The same with reducing stress. Stress and diet play a role in heart disease and diabetes, which both raise the risk of dementia significantly.    Playing games — and particularly video games — improves cognitive function, though “brain games” don’t appear to be any more beneficial than other types of video game. Chronic ...

I’ve talked about my friend Sarah before, and I want to talk about her again, because Sarah has had one of the most difficult, most heartbreaking jobs anyone can take on. When Sarah was 48, her mother was diagnosed with “possible Alzheimer’s” dementia. It was a huge shock, because her mother was only 68 at the time and in moderately good health. Sarah was devastated.   Sarah and her mother have always been very close. They lost her father when Sarah was only in her twenties, and she’s always felt it was like her job to look out for her mom. So early on she decided that she was going to take care of her mother at home no matter what.     The first year wasn’t too bad. Her mom had good days and bad days, as you might expect. On the good days she was almost her old self. On the bad days, things were…not so good. But as time went on the good days got fewer and farther between. And as s caring for mom took up more ...

I know. "Stress-busting" and "craze" really don't belong in the same sentence. Yet together they're the perfect description of a phenomenon that's sweeping the country. From cities to small towns, people are getting together in coffee shops, public libraries, and any other quiet and comfortable place where they can spend an hour or two. They gather in groups of four or five, fifteen, maybe even twenty-six or -seven. Some meet daily, some only weekly or monthly. The members come prepared — they're equipped with colored pencils, gel pens, and magic markers. Some even sport old-fashioned wax crayons. And they all carry coloring books. No, they're not coming for a children's day at the library, and they're not taking their kids or grandkids on a playdate. These people are members of adult coloring groups. That's right. Coloring, as in old-fashioned Crayolas and cheesy pictures printed on rough newsprint. The quiet ...

On August 12, long jumper Jeff Henderson captured the gold with a leap of 8.38 meters. It was a memorable moment for Team USA—the first US gold medal in the event since 2004. The win might have had fans cheering, but what he did after being awarded his medal brought a tear to their eyes. It reminded us all just what the Games are all about and the spirit that underlies them. The 27-year-old Arkansas native is a multi-talented athlete who is also a sprinter. He became a serious athlete at age 15 and winning the gold is thus far the pinnacle of his career. In a touching gesture guaranteed to tug the hardest heartstrings, he decided to pay tribute in front of the whole world to the person who helped him climb to that pinnacle, even if she doesn’t remember it now. Henderson dedicated the gold to his mother. And he confided that she is one of the millions of people world-wide who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease—the most devastating form of dementia. ...

We talk about Alzheimer’s a lot. We do it as a society. We do it here at Constitutional Health too. But although it may be the most talked-about—and probably the most frightening—it’s far from the only chronic brain disease. Multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, ALS and other degenerative brain diseases are equally devastating. They just destroy in different ways. One of the most common of these is Parkinson’s disease. It’s actually the second most common neurodegenerative disease. Like Alzheimer’s, it affects millions. Like Alzheimer’s, it kills brain cells and leads to loss of function. Sometimes, like Alzheimer’s, it leads to dementia. Like Alzheimer’s, there is no cure. And although it really hit the public consciousness when actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed while only in his late twenties, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s usually affects people over 50. Unlike Alzheimer’s, there ...

If you’re a die-hard list-maker, there may be many different reasons you keep up the habit. Maybe you feel you need lists to keep you “on task.” You might find they help you prioritize and get more done in the day. Maybe you’re just a little OCD and not starting your day with a list leaves you mildly off-balance and jittery. Ask five different list-makers what motivates them, and you’ll get fifty different enthusiastic answers. If you’re not a list-maker, though, the very thought of becoming one might make you feel a little anxious. Lists may make you feel boxed in. You might feel like they stifle your creativity and leave no room for spontaneity. In fact if you’re not a list-writer, just the idea of writing down and organizing your “to-do’s” can be downright panic-inducing. So you might want to take a deep, calming breath before we go on. Because today I’m here to tell you something scary: Making to-do lists ...

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now

×