Dr. Holly Carlson Zhao
When was the last time you wanted to describe an idea by using a particular word or phrase but you held back because the word or phrase might raise seriously ruffled feathers or cause you to be judged? In my almost daily work addressing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia there is a word that has permeated medical literature for several years but is still scarcely whispered among serious-type professionals. It’s the P-Word. And despite the fact that doctor types hesitate to use it, the fact of the matter is that it needs to be said because everyday folks are focusing on it.
What’s this P-Word? It’s prevention. Yes, you read the word correctly. Prevention. What could possibly be so controversial about prevention, you ask? More importantly, let’s hear all about it! None of us want to have troubles with memory or thinking as we age.
Last week Mandy Oaklander wrote a fantastic article Untangling Alzheimer’s in Time Magazine. It covers the current Alzheimer’s disease scientific landscape and quickly pivots to why lifestyle changes can be the best way to protect our brains as we age. Why do I want to sing from the rooftops about this article? Because I have said all along as a specialist in aging and brain health that we need to be talking to folks about the exact lifestyle issues the article highlights.
Since the founding of the Center for Optimal Brain Health I have insisted that we discuss the importance of lifestyle with patients, caregivers and family members we serve. No matter what traditional diagnostic service we provide we must also consider someone’s overall health, especially the health of their heart. At the Center we offer a special appointment called the Baseline & Annual Simple Screening (under the Clinical Services tab). We also devote the Wellness section to more extensive Brain Wellness Lifestyle Evaluation to help people learn about how they fare in the areas linked to brain health in order to make changes and improve.
I encourage you to read the TIME article and take heart. While we have a long road to travel as we continue to develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s, we also have a lot of power in our hands to help ourselves age better. If you want to learn about how you can personalize your lifestyle for powerful brain health consider calling the office to schedule an appointment. You are welcome to attend one of my upcoming speaking engagements where I address how to live a brain healthy life. Check out our Upcoming Events or call the office to learn more. At the Center we are committed to providing you and your loved ones the best specialized diagnostic and supportive care for your brain health. Along the way we promise to continually encourage you to live the most brain-friendly life possible.
Dr. Holly Carlson Zhao
Things are hopping at the Center and this week things are especially abuzz. I am just back from a week’s worth of continuing education where I learned about new medication protocols for a variety of diagnoses. The information was exciting and will be very useful as I help people.
As an added benefit I planned the training around a study opportunity in Cape Cod. Getting away from Houston’s heat was all part of my plan. In addition to getting cutting edge instruction, I enjoyed a nature-filled getaway full of walks and quiet that was good for the mind and body. (Interested in how a walk outside is good for your mind? Check out my recent Facebook post).
The down-side of it was that while I was away I came down with a cold. My forested cabin became not only a shoe-box study hole but a place to fortify and quickly get myself well. In addition to basic remedies I decided to try a new anti-inflammation turmeric tea that I’ve wanted to make. Get the recipe and read about it HERE.
The tea tasted really good – and yet, it didn’t taste like tea at all. It tasted like the end of summer; a mix between chai and one of the autumn pumpkin-spice drinks peddled at coffee shops. I enjoy the taste of turmeric, but surprisingly the spice’s flavor was absorbed by the gentle sweetness and very mild spiciness of the other ingredients. My cabin didn’t have a microwave so I warmed everything in a saucepan and it was still fast and easy to make. Thanks to a reader’s comments I made one change to the recipe and added honey at the very end. You might try that too. Will I make it again? Absolutely.
By the end of the trip I left with new tools in my toolbox to help care for patients and families. I also left more rested and connected with the great outdoors. And to top it off my cold flew the coop so maybe the tea was helpful. If nothing else, it certainly was enjoyable as was the rest of the getaway. Life is busy, but sometimes productivity happens best when we fly the coop and get outside. So here’s to cooler temps, productivity and end-of-summer adventures.
Dr. Holly Carlson Zhao
This week, a friend brought to my attention an article from Tuesday’s WSJ called “A Speed-Training Brain Exercise Puts off Dementia”. With so many remedies out claiming to slow dementia in older adults, it’s hard to weed out which are useful. I think it’s great that people are taking the initiative on their own brain health, and because I use a similar sort of video game in my office to help assess brain health, I decided to look into the new game.
The article data looked good at first blush, promising enough that, as a professional, I wanted to read the actual journal article. In this, I saw “the data is considered preliminary because it hasn’t yet been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal.” Shocked, this made me stop and consider waiting for the research to emerge. However, I decided to try the game anyway.
To play the game, you must pay $14 a month and login on www.brainhq.com. I logged in and started off with “Double Decision” in the “Attention” section. I was frustrated at first because the screen kept freezing. I wanted to give up. Then, Evan in the office suggested switching browsers. It worked! Now on Chrome, I was off and rolling. The game was set in a desert scene and required me to look and try to remember each automobile and speed sign that appeared on the horizon. I finished only earning three out of five stars set at a baseline speed. To be honest, I was disappointed. So I played again, this time feeling worse because I analyzed my performance as I went along. But lo and behold, I improved my speed by 45 milliseconds and had now earned four stars! Luckily my inner critic didn’t slow me down.
In the end, the game was easy to play and gave instant feedback about your improvement so I would play it again and recommend it to others. However, I would like to keep updated on when the research comes out to see if it does help slow the effects of dementia. Check out www.brainhq.com and let me know what you think about this new game!
Dr. Holly Carlson Zhao
It may be the dog-days of summer but as July tips toward August I find myself eyeballing the horizon: updated family calendars, back to school, fourth quarter goals, 2017 strategic plans, holidays. Changing out my closet, updating fall colors, revitalizing exercise routines, rotating recipes, celebrating with family. And, oh yes, awaiting motherhood!
Never having been one to let grass grow under my feet, I am easing into the upcoming hustle and bustle by starting some projects now. First up today is writing this article on our newly revamped website (yeah!). Why this project? Because many of you are asking to hear from me and I’m very happy to connect with you via occasional posts.
The way I see it life is full of the monumental and mundane so I’ll share both the brainy and lighthearted. I’ll write about what catches my attention or affection at work or on the home-front. Like many of you, I have a multigenerational tribe of folks and furry friends that I love in addition to whatever I’m doing at the Center. In case you’re interested, I also post on the Center’s Facebook page and add my own take on things. Hopefully a hodge-podge of these musings will add a little extra something to your day.
Until next time,