A few years ago I was amazed by the number of women who were complaining that they could not remember things including people’s names or what they went to the refridgerator to find, or where their keys were. Recently I have had similar experiences that then gave me compassion for memory challenges and loss at any age. In Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife, author and journalist Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, uses her own fading memory and memory loss as a catalyst for a journey of exploration in strategies for retrieving memory. Her explorations as well as the stories of others give a broad perspective on how to nurture brain health from a variety of perspectives and strategies.
From my own perspective, the building of brain health naturally without the use of pharmaceuticals whenever possible (each person’s situation is obviously unique) is the best and healthiest strategy. As the author does try various pharmaceuticals, she gives honest feedback as to how each affects her. The reality is that - Cultivating a healthy brain starts from when we are young. From the book, the importance of physically protecting the brain in childhood with helmets/proper equipment when bike riding, boarding, skiing and in sports is essential. Childhood/youth brain injuries often don’t express when we are younger and will express in mid-age or in our elder years – as memory loss. The other chapter that I found fascinating was “Emerging Triumphant” How to Stockpile Neurons: The Habits of the Cognitively Well-Endowed that suggests by doing a whole range of activities with their connected behaviours. An interesting study by Joe Verghese, a researcher at Albert Einstein Shcool of Medicine showed that ballroom dancing reduced the risk of developing dementia by a whopping 76% !! ! – better than learning a language, musical instrument, doing a crossword puzzle or taking a class.
To me, this example shows the holistic treatment and approach to life is what our brains ultimately love and thrive on. Ballroom dancing involves- steps, moving in time to music and being connected closely with the energy fields and movements of another person, fun and this is what best builds our cognitive reserve and our brain health! The journey to a healthy brain in mid-life and the elder years is a lifelong journey!