I had quite a scare the other day.
After waking up from, what has become my regular afternoon siesta, I couldn’t remember the president’s first name. I don’t know why I wanted to remember the president’s first name but apparently I did and couldn’t. (Please don’t read anything political into this.) Obama was no problem. I also had no trouble recalling the name of Obama’s wife, Michelle, but..what the hell?? This is the President of the United States and I’m drawing a blank.
I’ve had these..what I call brain farts..before. I’ve gone into rooms on a mission only to completely forget what that mission is once I get there. I’ve had to call my own cell phone more times than I can count in order to hear the ring and disclose its location. I go to the store and forget one or more of the main items I went to the store for in the first place. I think these are pretty common episodes in most people’s lives no matter how far advanced in age they are.
But this was a doozy for me because it lasted for several minutes; almost to the point of where I was going to check Google on the computer under U.S. Presidents. Then, as mysteriously as the name “Barack” left my mind, it popped back in.
The incident upset me so much that I started wondering if this was an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s which claimed my cousin Bob’s life last spring. So, back to Google. Turns out, It could be…but most likely, according to a recent report on National Public Radio, it’s nothing to be terribly concerned about. If you start forgetting the names of close friends and family members or get lost in familiar places or words that used to be important no longer have meaning..well, then get yourself checked post haste.
Dr. Kirk Daffner, a Harvard Brain Specialist, says What’s common as people age, is that the speed at which information can be retrieved on demand is slowed. Through much of our lives, it was this wonderful gift; we wanted information and bang, it came to us.” He says there are lots of reasons why our brains get sluggish. High blood pressure damages the wiring that connects different parts of the brain. Poor sleep or excess alcohol are enemies of a nimble brain. And many medicines — including common drugs to reduce stomach acid, control asthma or treat depression — can slow the brain down. Hmmm, I take meds for high blood pressure, have goofy sleep habits and have been on Prozac for many years. Strike one, two and three right? Well..not necessarily. It turns out you can reduce the risk of losing your marbles by keeping the old brain ACTIVE and CHALLENGED.
So now, I can consider those hours spent in the porcelain reading room doing crosswords as a healthy time of both physical AND mental multi-tasking. Research has also found that social networks (having lots of friends) and stimulating activities are also vital to good cognitive function. I have that covered; 825 friends on Facebook where I spend so much of my time. It’s not a waste of time, It’s brain therapy. And for stimulating activities..what can be more stimulating than watching the Minnesota Vikings or “Blue Bloods” “Hell on Wheels” “Downton Abbey”or any one of a hundred favorite television programs? “I’ve gotta watch TV, honey. Doctor’s orders.”
“There is one other thing people can do,” Dr Daffner says, “physical exercise.” “Some of the best converging data about successful memory or cognition is linked to exercise.”
Damn. I was almost in the clear.