24 Feb Staying Sharp
is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. www.janfowler.com. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
– Sophia Loren
Just in case you happen to be among those of us who feel occasionally worried or concerned that we’re not quite as sharp as we used to be or that our memory to recall, retain, and remember information is dribbling away, read on.
One of the most commonly held fears among seniors today is loss of memory in later life. But before we torment ourselves with needless anguish or worry that we’re spiraling downward and headed straight for dementia, let’s clear up an age-old myth. It is outdated thinking to believe that memory loss and confusion are a normal part of aging because we now know that it is possible to strengthen a shrinking memory.
Memory experts tell us that the brain is an amazing mechanism which can indeed generate new cells, regardless of age. In fact, the latest buzzword among concerned seniors is neuroplasticity, which I discussed with psychologist, wellness counselor, and expert on brain plasticity science Bill Roozeboom , Ph.D. Dr. Roozeboom was quick to point out that we have much more control over our bodies, minds, and brains than we ever dreamed possible.
“Brain plasticity is brain malleability, meaning that the brain is pliable and has the ability to form new neural connections all through life,” Roozeboom explains. “Neuroplasticity allows nerve cells in the brain to compensate for injury and disease in response to changes in the body or environment. For example if one hemisphere of the brain is damaged, the healthy hemisphere may take over some of its functions. So the brain is capable of forming new connections between intact neurons, but in order for reconnection to take place, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity.”
So what kinds of activities are capable of firing up these new neural connections? Well, for starters, instead of sitting passively in front of the TV all day, we’re urged to master a new skill such as racquetball, crocheting, memorizing lines for a play, or learning to play a musical instrument. We grow new brain cells by challenging the mind, which means engaging ourselves as often as possible in sensory, cognitive, or motor activities.
Cellular biologist Bruce Lipton, PhD., author of “The Biology of Belief” and “Spontaneous Evolution”, is one of the leading-edge scientists who supports the belief that it is possible for our minds to reprogram our genes. He, along with other researchers, feel strongly that our genes respond to our thoughts, emotions, and unconscious beliefs.
Dr. Roozeboom adds the recommendation that we need to tune into ourselves periodically so we can better attune to others. “You need to love yourself so you can love your neighbor,” he emphasizes, explaining that the brain benefits from the combined health of body, mind, and soul. He also feels that laughing is good for us because it helps us produce our own Xanax which releases endorphins, the body’s pain-killer.
So in addition to continuing to challenge ourselves cognitively, we also need to think good thoughts, folks. Our thoughts and beliefs have a profound impact upon our lives. When our minds are filled with negative thoughts we end up attracting more of what we don’t want. And when we fill our minds with upbeat positive “I can do it!” thinking, we attract more of what we like—better health! The choice is ours.
“You can change your genetic destiny to grow new brain cells.” David Perlmutter, M.D., Neurologist
Jan Fowleris author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So.California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. www.janfowler.com. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message via email firstname.lastname@example.org.