Published on: November 10, 2011
by Anna Ferguson Hall for Life Extension Daily News:
Like clockwork, the Brunswick resident stops by the library every other week, checking out as many books as she can carry. Last week, she signed out 14.
“I can really only carry about 12 or so in my bag, but I just stuff as many as possible in it anyway,” Connell said. “There is no limit on how many you can check out, so I take advantage of that, you’d say. I read at least six books a week.”
At 71, Connell is an active reader with a sharp mind. She is quick on her feet, clever and vivacious. She loves the TV trivia show “Jeopardy!” and usually knows most of the answers. She can do several tasks at once and has a mind like a steel trap.
“Well, maybe I can’t remember things as much as I once could, but I think I’m hanging in there and doing well,” Connell said.
Her spryness and spunk are likely due to how active she keeps her brain, she speculates.
“I do think that the more active you keep your brain, the longer you hold on to those traits of brain power you have at a younger age,” Connell said.
Connell is not alone in that thinking. Overwhelming research has shown that older citizens who keep their minds sharp and active are more likely to retain a higher level of brain power as they age. Keeping the brain active through exercises like reading regularly is vital to preventing memory loss and reduced brain function, said Janice Vickers, executive director of Alzheimer’s of Glynn/ Brunswick.
“There is no question that reading can maintain a healthy brain as you age,” Vickers said. “The saying is true: If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
An estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, according to the National Alzheimer’s Association. That’s one in eight older Americans. Vickers said the disease, though prevalent in aging citizens, can be avoided or, at the very least, delayed. Working to prevent the condition at an earlier age is key to ensuring a quick mind like Connell’s, Vickers said.
That means flexing the brain as often as possible in a variety of ways. Cracking a book or other printed work awakens many functions in the brain, including concentration, vision and comprehension, Vickers said.
Reading books, magazines and periodicals aren’t the only sources individuals can lean on for stimulating brain function. Doing research online, playing trivia games and even crossword puzzles have been shown as ways to produce more brain function and prevent dementia-related diseases, Vickers said. Reading also can be a link to diagnosing early stages of memory loss. The ability to read can slip from some patients early in the process of developing the disease.
With the Olympics officially underway, we want to highlight trampoline gymnast Rosie MacLennan, who, in addition to being one of Canada’s most accomplished athletes, is also a fierce advocate of brain health....
It is not uncommon for a researcher to show an interest in science at an early age. Growing up, Reubs Walsh was more precocious than most children her age. As a young child, she sought...
You may have heard about the power of affirmations. There has been much hype in both the self-help world and the media about the ways in which repeating positive statements to yourself can help with...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.