What was it I needed to do?

Photo credit: pni / Source / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: pni / Source / CC BY-NC-SA

Have you ever gone into a room and forgotten what you went in there to find? Ever forget someone’s name? Ever spend time looking for something because you couldn’t remember where you put it?

These are normal events for most people. At my age, however, they are becoming more worrisome. Some days I worry about losing my memory.

My dad has Parkinson’s and dementia and it saddens me to watch him struggle. I am reading books about dementia and memory loss diseases to learn how to help him, support those who do his care-giving, and understand some of his challenges.

I am also learning how to prevent or at least diminish the potential for my own memory loss. This past week, I read a great biography about a daughter caring for her dementia-affected mom: Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir. Besides communicating honesty, empathy and encouragement, the author, Martha Stettinius, offers great appendices of resources – one contains suggested antidotes for dementia.

This is a summary of what she writes:


Studies show that thirty minutes of daily physical activity (housework, walking, weight training, etc) may be our strongest weapon against Alzheimer’s and other memory loss diseases. Aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain and stimulates growth of new brain cells.

Mental Stimulation

Add social community and mental stimulation to exercise and you have a great combination. Work, join a club, volunteer, travel, play games – especially crosswords or puzzles, learn to speak another language or play an instrument. Do these things in relationship with others and your brain continues to make connections too.

Eat Right

Nothing new here right? A good diet helps with a lot of things! Eating dark veggies and fruits, cold water fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) and nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts) also decreases the risk for memory loss. Vitamins E, C, and B12 may also help. Cut back on sugars and carbs wherever you can.

In addition, Stettinius suggests that you get checked if you have vision problems, sleep apnea or an infection that damages neurons. Researchers consider each of these as possible catalysts for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

This all seems pretty basic and these are health tips I have heard before. I am just a bit more motivated to take them seriously each time I hear about someone else caring for a loved one who suffers memory loss… and that is often. There are 35.6 million people with dementia worldwide today and analysts expect that amount to almost double by 2030 to around 66 million and double again by 2050 to approximately 115 million.

I am going to do what I can so that I do not add to that number.

How about you? Do you need to change some habits? Or did I already ask you that?

younger next year

time clock

When we are children, we can’t wait to grow up, play with the “big guys”, and enjoy the privileges that come with accumulated years of age.

It doesn’t take long before we are we looking back on our years of youth with deep longing, working hard and paying plenty to stall (or at least hide) the age progression, and wishing that Ponce de León had truly found the fountain of youth!

So, it will be no surprise to you that the title of the book, “Younger Next Year“, caught my attention. I don’t know where I picked it up, but it has been sitting on my shelf for a few years, and this week I decided to read it through. Since it was open on the table (with only a hypothetical need for the content!), my husband read it too.

Two men co-wrote the book – a doctor, Henry S. Lodge, M.D., and his patient/friend, Chris Cowley.  They combine scientific knowledge and motivation into a 7 point training routine that they claim can put off the typical effects of aging and provide health and energy for life into the 80’s and 90’s.

Harry’s Rules are:

  1. Exercise six days a week for the the rest of your life.
  2. Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life.
  3. Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.
  4. Spend less than you make.
  5. Quit eating crap!
  6. Care.
  7. Connect and commit.

I did not enjoy the “tone” of the book that much. I did not agree with some of the scientific basis, and the book has a to-the-boys, “locker-room” communication style. On the other hand, their rules challenge me, and I see great value it all of them. I especially appreciate how physical, financial, and relational elements share space on the list. A disciplined application of these rules could definitely add years to a person’s life.

How about you? Do you long for younger days? What are you doing to “stay” young? 

**Since writing this post, I found that the book exists in a special version for women: Younger Next Year for Women.