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The Aging Brain

Posted 5/18/2015

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  Although at first glance this may seem unrelated to our (cancer) topic, I think it is actually quite relevant. What happens cognitively to everyone as they age is quite similar to our concerns about chemo brain. For those of us who have had cancer treatment and are aging (YAY!), any information about how to stay mentally sharp is useful.

  We know the general reassurances about Alzheimer's Disease vs. normal aging concerns. The cliche usually is: "Don't worry if you can't find your keys. Worry if you don't know how to use them." OK, that helps, but we do still have to remember where we put our keys or our glasses. And I frequently hear stories from people who were quite surprised to find their gloves in the freezer--or whatever. Here is a tip that helps: When you are putting down the keys or going to the kitchen for the scissors, say it aloud: " I am putting the keys in the bowl on the hall table." I have done this for decades when I turn off the iron, but it is useful for  less potentially dangerous tasks, too.

  You will enjoy this essay by Jane Brody. Here is the start and a helpful link:

As We Age, Keys to Remembering Where the Keys Are
By Jane E. Brody

I recently told my 70s-something walking group that I wanted to write about “retrieval disorder,” our shared
problem with remembering names and dates, what we had just read and where, even what we had for dinner last night. Or, in my case, the subject of the column I wrote the day before.
One walking buddy suggested I call it delayed retrieval disorder. “It’s not that we can’t remember,” she said.
“It just takes us longer, sometimes a lot longer, than it used to.” Then she wondered, “Is it really a disorder? Since it seems to happen to all of us, isn’t this just normal aging?”
Indeed it is, I’ve learned from recent reports, including one released last month by the Institute of Medicine.
And it doesn’t mean we’re all headed down the road to dementia, although unchecked, cognitive changes with age can make it increasingly difficult to meet the demands of daily life, like shopping, driving, cooking and socializing.
I am painfully aware of increasingly frequent memory lapses, like where I left my cellphone or glasses. I
searched the house the other day for a container of ice cream, only to finally find it in the microwave, where I had planned to soften it. Without a shopping list, I inevitably return from the store without something I really needed.
And without a hide-a-key, I would routinely lock myself out of the house.
I was a terrific speller and walking thesaurus most of my life, but now routinely resort to an online dictionary
and my computer’s ability to second-guess the word I’m trying to spell.


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