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Combating Memory Loss

Combating Memory Loss

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Published by Janusz Kaleta
Learn New Skill to sharpen your memory and delay Alzheimer's Disease
Learn New Skill to sharpen your memory and delay Alzheimer's Disease

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Published by: Janusz Kaleta on Sep 08, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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F
Activation Therapy/Brain
Fitness
Neuroplasticity
is
the
ability
of
the
brain
toadapt andreconfigureitself.
It
does so
notonly when
it
is traumatized,but also
as
it
ages. However,
brain
cells, especially
those
engaged
in
memory,
need
to
be
stimulated
or
exercised
inorder
to remainviable, adaptiveand
healthy.
ByJanusz
Kaleta
Combatting
memory
loss
Brain
fitnessactivities/exercises
to optimizeresident
functioning
andwell-being
in
LTC
fl
e-emerging
knowledge
on
brain
I(
prartillty
giu"s
new horizons
to
seniors confronted
with
fears of
memory loss
and neuro-degenerative
diseases
affectingcognitive function.
Disturbance
in
brain functioning,
de-
cline
in
memory,
and
inability
to
maintain
independence
in
communitysettings
cause
an
excess
of
disabilityamong seniors, and
frequently
high
stress
on
their families.
Newresearch
Until
recently,
medicalprofessionals
as
well
as
thegeneral
public perceiveddecline
in
brainfunctioning
as
a nor-
malpart
of
aging.
The
decade-long
revolutionwithin
the
field
of medicine
(paticularly
neurology)
resulted in the
establishment
of
neuroplasticians
equipped
with
newly
discovered,re-
search-based
science
that
changed
forever
the
way
we
view
our
brains.
Seniors
residing
in
both retirement
residences
and
long-term
care
homes
often battle
degenerative diseases
like
Alzheimer's, and
other
types
of
de-
mentia,
but
also strive
to
preserve
cognitive function
that
directly
re-
lates
to
their
sense
of control.
A
recentlypublished
book,
"The
Brain
that
Changes
ltself,"by
Dr.Norman
Doidge,
M.D.,
provides
an
extensive
review
of
neuroplasticityand
paints
a
new image
of
the
brain
and
mind.
Brain
exercisesvs.
drugs
According to Dr.Michael
Merzen-
ich,
one
of
the
leaders
in
brain neuro-
plasticity,
brain
exercises
may
be
as
successful
as
medications
in
the treat-ment
of
brain-related
diseases;
this
isbecause
brain
plasticity
allows
forsignificant
improvements
in
cogni-
tive
functioning
and
prevention
of
memory
loss
in
the
elderly.
(See
www.brainconnection.com)
Maintaining
memory functions
eliminates
threats
to
self-esteemamong seniors andpromotes
signifi-cantimprovements
in
quality
of
lifethatmaybe
continued
inretirementand
long-term
care
homes.
Seniors
who
areunable
to
recallthe
names
of
loved
ones,
of
care
givers
and
events are
not only
prone
to
depres-
sion,
but
also
loss
of
control
and
independence.
The
additional
stress
is
often
passed
on
to
family
members
and
care-givers
who
need
to
adapt
to new
challenges.
The
proper
understanding
and
ap-
plication
of
new
research
may
lead
to
improvement
and/orpreservation
of
memory among
seniors
and,
sub-
sequently,
quality
of
life
and
enjoy-
ment
of
activities
of
daily
living.Long-term
care
homes
locatedinlarge urban
centres often
have
a
di-
Canadian
Nursing
Home17
 
Researchers can
now
observe
creationof
newmemories
Scientists havewitnessed a new memorybeingformedfor
the
first
time,
a
breakthrough
that's
expectedto
pave
the
way
for
mapping
memories
across
the
brain.
High-
resolution
images show
how
connections
betweenneigh-
bouring
brain
cells
changed
when
a
memorywaslaid
down.
Ateam
of
psychologists
from
the
University
of
California
in
Irvine
witnessedthe
memory
being
formed
when
a
rat
learned
to
navigateamaze
andthe
memory was
'written'
in
the brain
by
changes
to
1o,ooo
synapses,
the micro-
scopicconnections
that
allow
nervecellsin
the
brain
to
communicate.A
synapse
is
roooth
of
a
mm
across.
Threegroups
ofrats
were used
in
the study.
One
groupwas
let
loose
in
a
maze
for
periods
of
half
an
hour
and
soon learned
their
way
around
it.
Anothergroup
was
given
a
drug
that
is
known
to
block
the
formation
of
memories.Thelastgroup
was used
asa
control.
After the
ratshad
time
to
learn
their
way around
the
maze,
the
scientistsexaminedsections
of
tissue
in
a
tiny
part
of
the
hippocampus,
aregion
of
the
brain
linked
to
memory
and
navigation.
Within
this
regionthey were
able
to
use
fluorescentantibodies
tohighlight
nerve
connections
that
had
recentlybeen
strengthened.
The
scientists
used
a
new
technique
called
restorattue
deconuolutionmicroscopy
to
focus
on
one
million
slmapses.
They
foundthat
t%"
were
enlarged,
and
had
formedstronger
connections
with
neighbouringbrain
cells.
(Journal
ofNeuroscience
-
July
25,
zoo7).I
verse
population
of
clients
who
re-
quire
a
unique
approach
andwho
bring
a
richness
of
life
experiencesand
skills.
Lincoln
Place
(Long-TermCare
Home)
locatedin
Toronto,rec-
ognized
both the
need
to
develop
brain
fitness activities
to
build
on
relativelypreserved
memory
sub-systems,
as well as
the unique
skills
that
residents
were
willing
to
share
with
others.
This
was complemented
by
the
willingness
of
other
clients
toleam somethingcompletely
new.The Programs
staff
at
Lincoln
Place,
while
designing
new
brainfitness
ac-
tivities,
quickly
realizedthat
several
clients
were
bilingual
or
multilingual
includingEnglish,
French,
Hebrew,
Yiddish,
Polish,
Russian,
Ukrainian,
Hungarian,
Spanish,Chinese
(Manda-
rin
and
Cantonese),
Filipino
(Tagalog),Japanese,
Urdu,
Arabic,
Greek
andPortuguese,
to
name
a
few
Sharingresident
resources
A
number
of
clients
expressed
a
willingness
to
teachothers
their
lan-
guage.
After
a
short
debate,
clients
participating
in
the
Brain
Fitness
Pro-gram
expresseda
willingnessto
learnFrench.
With
ease,
a
French-speaking
Forming
new
neural
connectionsandpathways
Neuroplasticity
is
the
brain's
ability
to
reorganize
itselfbyforming
newneural
connections
throughout
life.
Neuroplasticity
allows
the
neurons(nerve
cells)
in
the
brain
to
compensate
for
injury
and
disease
and
to
adjust
their
activities
in
responseto
new
situations
or
to
changes
in
their
environment.
Brain
reorganizationtakes
place
by
mechanismssuch
as
"axonal sprout-
ing"inwhich
undamagedaxons
grow
new
endings
to
reconnectneuronswhoselinks
were
injured
or
severed. Undamagedaxons
canalso
sprout
nerve
endings
and
connect
with
other
undamaged
nerve
cells, formingnewneural
pathways to accomplish
a
needed
function.
For
example,
if
one
hemisphereofthe
brain
is
damaged,
the
intacthemi-
sphere may
take
oversome
ofits functions.
The
brain
compensates
for
dam-
age
in
effect
by
reorganizingand
forming
new connectionsbetween
intact
neurons.
In
order
to
reconnect,theneurons
need
to
be
stimulated
through
some
cognitiveactivity.
Neuroplasticitymay alsocontribute
to
impairment.
For
example,
peo-
ple
who
are deaf may
experience
a
continual
ringing
in
their
ears
(tin-
nitus).
This
is
a result
of
the
rewiring
of
brain
cellsstarved
for
sound'
For
neurons
to
formbeneficial
connections
in
thebrain,
theymust
be
correctlystimulated.
T
Volume
18,
Number3,
Septemberloctober,2007
I8resident
was
identified.
Otherresi-
dents,
feeling
nostalgic
because
of
limited
opportunity
to
use
French,
were morethan
happY
to
share
and
instruct
in
that
language.
Today,
established
groups
of
resi-
dents
enjoyweekly
language
activi-
ties,
having
fun
trying
to
pronounce
newwords
and
memorizing
simPle
phrases.
Other
programs,
like
"Basy
with
A,
B,
C"
and
"Let's
Spelll'
use
linguistictools
designed
to
assist
with
phonologicalprocessing
and
re-tention.
Simplementalactivities
were
also
introduced
beforeand
during
otherprograms,
such
as
baking,whereresi-
dents,
whilewaitingfor
their
creations
to
cook,
would
playwith wordorigins,rhymes
and
word
associations.
Cognitive
programming
One
of
the
importantindications
fordesigningcognitiveprogramming
is
to encourage
clients
to
learn
some-
thing
completely
new.
Whereasrep-
etition
of
tasksmastered
in
the
past
(like
playing
a
piano) may
be
benefi-
cial
in
maintenance
of
that
skill,
it
is
the
learning
of
something
com-
pletely
new
that
delivers
needed
stimulationto
the
brain.
The
formerly
held view
that
the
brain
was
not
a
muscle
andbecomes
somehow
fixed
after
a
periodof
critical
development,has beenover-

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