Only one person in my family has has Alzheimer’s, and that was the one person who never remarried after her spouse died. I’ve always assumed that the lack of shared life–routine, conversations, interpersonal challenge, even comfortable silence–was what failed for her brain.
This article from NPR suggests that:
The key… is to exercise the three different types of memory: long-term memory, sensory memory and working memory.
Restak recommends working through mental calisthenics. I love this suggestion! After my Osteology class in college I spent my commuting time running through all the human bones. Now I have a less exciting run-down: the Federal Rules of Evidence.
To exercise working memory, Restak suggests a few radical ideas, including video games for adults that reinforce focus and dexterity skills.
And a self-quiz: Name the U.S. presidents, going backward from Barack Obama to John F. Kennedy. Then, arrange them in chronological order starting with Kennedy, assigning each his proper party affiliation (so, Kennedy — Democrat; Johnson — Democrat; etc.). Next, list them alphabetically. That ability to perform more than one function at a time, Restak says, stretches the working memory.
Do my summer goals count as “brain stretches”?
1) Run, run, run, bc fall would be the best time to accomplish this goal;
2) Start learning the violin. The piano is too awkward to suit my gypsy lifestyle, and the French horn is simply less pretty sans orchestra; and
3) Regain control over my attention span. I miss reading books, and focusing on a larger mental map than 10-cases-at-a-time chunks. This summer will be a good time to read things other than articles, cases, and the instantly-gratuitous blogs.