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Continuing The Series On Brain Plasticity By Guest Author Anna Kucirkova

Ways To Harness Plasticity

harness plasticity

With the right circumstances, the power of brain plasticity can help adult minds grow. Although certain brain functions decay with age, people can tap into plasticity and refresh the brain.

Targeted brain plasticity exercises help to keep our brains fit. Even those suffering from brain damage may be able to retrain their brains for better function. The key is identifying what brain functions to target and how to best exercise them.

Researchers suggest that there are various methods of harnessing brain plasticity:

Intermittent Fasting

The Society for Neuroscience suggests that fasting increases synaptic plasticity, decreases risk of neurodegenerative diseases, promotes neuron growth and improves cognitive function. When you fast, a metabolic shift reduces the body’s leptin levels. Thus, the brain receives a chemical signal for neurons to produce more energy.

Travel

Traveling encourages neurogenesis by exposing your brain to new, fresh, and complex environments. Paul Nussbaum, a neuropsychologist from the University of Pittsburgh explains, “Those new and challenging situations cause the brain to sprout dendrites.” And a week-long tour of another country isn’t necessary to get this benefit; take a weekend road trip to a different city.

Use Mnemonic Devices

Memory training promotes connectivity in your brain’s prefrontal parietal network and can slow memory loss with age. Mnemonic devices combine visualization, imagery, spatial navigation, and rhythm and melody, so they can reach various parts of the brain simultaneously.

Learn an Instrument

Musicians’ brains show sharp connectivity between brain areas. Neuroscientists explain that the multi-sensory experience of playing a musical instrument allows for the association of motor actions with specific sounds, and memorizing visual patterns leads to new neural networks being formed. As you practice a new instrument, the repetition will allow for neuroplasticity to do its work.

Non-Dominant Hand Exercises

Using your non-dominant hand during routine tasks can help form new neural pathways. Doing this strengthens connectivity between your brain cells. Studies also show that non-dominant hand activities improve emotional health and impulse control. Try switching hands during some simple tasks and give your brain a test.

Read Fiction

Studies show increased and ongoing connectivity in the brains of participants after reading a novel. Enhanced brain activity occurred in the brain area that controls physical sensations and movement. Scientists explain that reading a novel can be a physical transportation into the fictional world. Shifting into this mental state is crucial for learning how to have complex social relationships.

Expand your Vocabulary

When you learn new words, the brain’s visual processes, memory processes, and auditory processes activate. The smaller your vocabulary, the more likely you are to have poor cognitive skills.

Sleep

Studies show that sleep “helps learning retention with the growth of dendritic spines, the tiny protrusions that connect brain cells and facilitates the passage of information across synapses.” Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night will help the brain retain information.

Try at least one of these ways and disprove the old idea that we lose brain function as we age.  The last part of this age will be published next week.

Aging Gracefully For Other People, Not yourself (Or Thinking About (“A Place For Mom”) ut

 

With the Baby Boomers coming into the picture, there are more of us who are dealing with the problems of aging.  One of them occurs when others tell those who are aging what they should do and how they should be.  This makes those among us who are aging feel that we are no longer in charge of our own destinies and that it is all downhill the rest of our lives.  Thus we tend not to maintain our intellect, our bodies, and our skills.

Another problem is we seem to not be able to know our own minds, understand our own medical problems, and what we are capable or not capable of doing.  Recently I began treatment for sleep apnea.  I realized from what the doctors said and what I have read and experienced that it was serious enough that it was occasionally interfering with my consciousness and this led to me not driving for a while until my sleep apnea improved with the use of a CPAP machine.

How this problem with sleep apnea was interpreted by some of my family was wrong and I got criticized for saying anything to the doctor (while it really was the truth).  I wound up losing my right to drive until it cleared up.  P.S. I had wanted my family (just before this happened) to drive me to get immediate medical care for asthma on one of these occasions that I experienced this while driving.

 

Secondly, there were no restrictions on my driving before this happened; but after, my family wants to place restrictions on my driving which would include having someone with me and limiting my driving to a certain local area.  While I am limiting my driving on my own to local communities, doctor’s appointments, and church, having certain someone’s with me inspecting my driving isn’t going to help matters.  I want my mind on the wheel and not on those kinds of distractions.

I have physical disabilities, but over time I have improved in terms of what I can and can not do.  Aren’t I supposed to get worse or might that really happen because I am supposed to give up and totally decline in terms of what I am able to do?  I have increased the amount of housekeeping and shopping I do.  I babysit grandchildren while my husband watches TV.  Keeps me busy.  I post on my website each week and balance my checkbook and pay my bills each month.  I have traveled sometimes on my own.

Question is how do those younger in my family or other younger acquaintances perceive me?  Is it for their own convenience or is it from their misguided perceptions of aging?  Beware, is aging caused by time or by what other people expect or by just giving up?

I continually increase my current knowledge in many areas (usually by reading).  I do scan the internet, I watch the news, I follow fashion magazines and TV programs, and I follow the interior decorating channels and magazines as well as religious and spiritual issues in print, on TV, and the internet.  I even talk to myself (sometimes I don’t have an appropriate audience) and my friends formulating ideas for presentations I would like to give on various subjects.  Oh, and my family worries if I say anything on the internet or in my blog I might embarrass myself (what about them?).  P.S. they don’t read my blog and if they did it probably it would probably be to edit it, not read it.  I have been writing this blog for five years.

Is It True That Only Those Who Do Good Can Feel Guilty?

Is it true that only those who do good can feel guilty?  Does it follow that those who do bad do not feel guilty?  On top of this, this propensity for those who do good to feel bad is often used against them.  People who do good (or the Goodies) when told that they did something wrong or that they made a mistake, it petrifies them and hinders their ability to do good in the future?  Are there a lot of people out there that don’t want people doing good and this is the best way to stop them because they have a conscience and are therefore fearful that they might hurt somebody? The Badies are out there making sure that they get what they want regardless of whether or not they hurt somebody.

The Goodies are fearful of being caught in a lie even if they didn’t know it was untrue until the Badies chastised them with it.  Badies lie all the time and to protect themselves from being called liars call other people liars to put the spotlight on someone else.  The best defence for them is a good offence.  The Goodies can become so busy defending themselves that they forget to point out the Bad Guy’s  mistakes.

How can this be helped?  The Goodies must become aware of what is happening so they can turn the tables on the Badies.  For example, “You call me a liar, when you lie all the time.”  When attacked this way by the Badies, a Goody can say this is none of your business.  A Bady attacked me once about my hair cut.  She loudly stated in a room full of family, “Who cut your hair?”  I replied by saying, “Who asked you?”  I had decided to not fall for her bait and to put the spotlight on her.  It did shut her up and the family members went on with their catching up.  Goodies can be too polite and these manipulators can count on this.

Badies not only lie, but they are good rationalizers. and can invent or find reasons why they are not guilty and should not be picked on.  It is important to recognise that if a Badie asks noisy questions and is not being polite that a Goody does not have to be polite either!

We all have boundaries and Badies especially like to cross them.  For example, within the nuclear family, certain issues are usually kept quiet and not shared with others especially when the Badies are just being noisy and want to lay these problems out in public so they can often give you bad advice and perhaps cause a spectacle.  People are not entitled to know your secrets.  These people can be very noisy.  I had one who looked up our friend’s phone number and called them inquiring about us.  Our friends had never met and were shocked and surprised when she called them up out of the blue.

The only boundaries Badies respect are their own and they are inclined to keep secrets.  They can be very outgoing and social when things are going good and disappear when things are going badly for them.  They can be very secretive that way and you can never get to know the whole person even when you find something that tells on them.  It may be a good idea at the time to use a Goodies address, but then something like information about bad checks pops up in the mail or on the phone.

Badies make a bushel barrow of mistakes themselves and they can go far in and  trying to cover up past mistakes which are often not found out about until that person leaves the scene.  They make up their own rules to benefit themselves like when a person (friend, neighbour, relative) dies that they will naturally inherit from him or her and even ask for that inheritance early.  See the story of the Prodigal Son” in the Bible.  They can walk all over a Goody when they are alive and when they are in the grave, they don’t stop.  An inheritance can be a windfall for someone but the will usually makes sure that all the bills are paid if there is money there to do it.  Doesn’t it make sense that the person, often a Goody, who helps the most, inherits the most, even if he or she doesn’t think he or she deserves it.

Guilt is the primary tool of the Badies and they often think to themselves that if I get people to look at another person who is doing “wrong” they won’t see what I am doing wrong.  Don’t look at me; look at him.  If these defensive maneuvers work, then they can get off Scott free.  When they judge others, they are usually revealing what others could condemn them for.  “Judge not that ye may not be judged; condemn not that ye not be condemned.”  It is written in the Bible.  For example, it is likely that the marital partner that desires to commit adultery condemns his or her partner for adultery either while desiring to do it himself or herself or while secretly actually indulging in adultery himself or herself.

 

FINALLY I AM FREE TO BE ME!

My happy face anyway!.

Finally I am free to be me.  Are you free to be you?

I just discovered in my old age (where I have found that insights blossom) I am no longer bound by what others think.  I don’t have to judge myself by people who are successful in my field or in any other field.  I am free to be me finally.  Instead of withering on the vine, I am growing again in new and different directions.  I grant that I have had difficulty with the judgments of me made by others.  I may not be the world’s expert on a subject, but more than likely they aren’t either.

Be on your guard as you may be greeted by the anger of others if you do assert yourself.  Attacking what is the most defended by others may reach the highest rewards.  Who am I?  Am I what I want to be and can be if I only let go of others’ past influences?  Make way for ME!  I am discovering things that were lost or discarded as not achievable.  Now can I trust my own judgment?

Would you, if you were a man, wear a suit that was tailored to fit some other man.  I had a husband who was very particular about collar sizes and sleeve lengths in his shirts.  I have discovered I only like music that is sung a certain way and any other versions can offend me.   (Am I right or wrong? )  Or have I discovered music for myself?

Failures do not always define you.  Whose judgment are you relying on?  Come home to the person you should know ( yourself) and glorify that.  This is not permission to clobber other people so you can have your own way, but you might make some people unhappy because they can no longer control you.  We all do not have the same tastes!

You probably can no longer be the peacemaker just giving in because someone with a louder voice is used to making a group’s decisions.  For example, such a person then picks the restaurant for a group to eat at which then decides what you can have to eat.  Avoiding conflict does keep the level of the drama down but at what price to you?

I am becoming well-defined as I age and have lumps and bumps that may not please others or that may interfere with what they (not I) want.  Who am I actually?  Do I have undiscovered talents and interests that I can use to shape “my world”?

The Little PEOPLE

happyoldercoupleEvery time I think that the Little PEOPLE are getting ahead, I realise they aren’t.  I was very happy with the recent election because I felt that the new administration was supporting the middle class that was no longer the middle class under the current, soon past administration.

grandparent-and-grandchildWhat I have recently realised is that I have joined the lower class (once working class or even middle class in many situations).  We are squeaking by on social security and disability payments (which have been borrowed from to pay other government expenses)  and have to seek help like free food from The Master’s Hand locally.  Also in this area, if you have farm income (that counts against you as it is considered income before farming expenses are taken out) in terms of getting any extra government help.farmgrandchild

Most of us would contribute something to the economy if there was a way we could.  Most of us would like to have a voice in the new administration.  For example, most of Illinois voted for the new administration except for the heavily populated urban areas.  But where is our voice?  No one campaigned in our areas and we feel that no one has listened to our concerns.  What do you think?  Are there other areas of our country in the same shape?

Expert-Full-NYC-3Also who is the voice of the forgotten little people?  On the network that supported the election of the new administration, we are not represented.  They are again relying on experts who have no real life experience or it is so far in the remote past that they don’t remember it or so far removed from it, it doesn’t matter anymore.

rp_362536218_150_150.jpgAlso, there is pressure on these experts, especially women, to conform to certain standards not representative of the men and/or do not reflect what ordinary people look like.  It is nice for some of us to remain “young” and look youthful but is not the way most people look and it is easier to see the standards for men are less stringent than for women.rp_376403644_150_150.jpg

For example, most woman experts on this network look like they are ready to go to a cocktail party instead of a business occasion.  Yes, the men are nicely and appropriately dressed but they don’t have to struggle as much as women do to appear appropriately presentable, youthful and beautiful.rp_374315433_150_150.jpg

When are the Little PEOPLE going to be represented?  The overall wearing, wearing second-hand clothing, or in “high style” Wal-Mart,  but often foreign made, clothing?  We have a lot to say and we don’t have a lot we can do about our situations but suffer.  Welfare often misses us and as our social security or retirement checks do not raise, but inflation and the cost of living does and as things cost more and more, we have to get by on less and less with little or no representation in or help from society or the government!empty pockets

The Little PEOPLE do have something to say!  We have learned something through experience.  We do have “philosophical” discussions.  We can see things others more fortunate and potentially more powerful don’t.rp_228552603_150_150.jpg

Certainly how Little PEOPLE experience life has something to say about the type of life we are promoting for all!  Often as people do better and better economically, they tend to put people down who haven’t and consider their opinions useless and their motivations feckless!  Also other people who have done well often think the same way and might make fun of those who don’t.  How many Little People do you see in certain churches or certain social groups like the Elks?  Nuff said.rp_AVaP8ps9-q4L3Kdb3ETm_150_150.jpg

I Am Free Of Judging Myself By Others

rp_374315433_150_150.jpgI just discovered in my old age (where I have found that insights blossom) I am no longer bound by what others think.  I don’t have to judge myself by people who are successful in my field or in any other field.  I am free to be me finally.  Instead of withering on the vine, I am growing again in new and different directions.  I grant that I have had difficulty with the judgments  of me made by others.  I may not be the world’s expert on a subject, but more than likely they aren’t either.

Be on your guard as you may be greeted by the anger of others if you do assert yourself.  Attacking what is the most defended by others may reach the highest rewards.  Who am I?  Am I what I want to be and can be if I only let go of others’ past influences?  Make way for ME!  I am discovering things that were lost or discarded as not achievable.  Now can I trust my own judgment?

rp_362536218_150_150.jpgWould you, if you were a man, wear a suit that was tailored to fit some other man.  I had a husband who was very particular about collar sizes and sleeve lengths in his shirts.  I have discovered I only like music that is sung a certain way and any other versions almost offend me.  Am I right or wrong?  Or have I discovered music for myself?

Failures do not always define you.  Whose judgment are you relying on?  Come home to the person you should know ( yourself) and glorify that.  This is not permission to clobber other people so you can have your own way, but you might make some people unhappy because they can no longer control you.  We all do not have the same tastes!

rp_363561405_150_150.jpgYou probably can no longer be the peacemaker just giving in because someone with a louder voice is used to making a group’s decisions.  For example, such a person then picks the restaurant for a group to eat at which then decides what you can have to eat.  Avoiding conflict does keep the level of the drama down but at what price to you?

I am becoming well-defined as I age and have lumps and bumps that may not please others or that may interfere with what they (not I) want.  Who am I actually?  Do I have undiscovered talents and interests that I can use to shape “my world”?

Life Doesn’t Come With An Instruction Manual!

rp_375649339_150_150.jpgLife doesn’t come with an instruction manual even though you deserve one.  You have to write your own!

Criticism is the little voice in your head that holds you back and hinders your performance.  Even though others say it is for your own good,  sometimes it isn’t.

rp_363849983_150_150.jpgReality is not always what you think it is or what you were told it is. You can miss seeing, hearing, feeling and experiencing some things because someone told you that you just were imagining things.

Sometimes as people get older they don’t get wiser, they just get more set in their ways.  Sometimes a strongly held theory or opinion becomes a person’s life jacket when he or she is drowning in new information.

rp_228552603_150_150.jpgHow hard is it for a person to change his or her mind?  This may be why people are told not to bring up religion or politics at the dinner table.  Maybe this is a good reason to think outside the box.  Many inventions were created this way.

Remember people are natural born originals and can’t be easily shaped into something that they are not.  Gemstones have to be cut into shapes that work with their natural structures.  What about individuals who are being shaped into contributing citizens?rp_6250513028_b874eef6f1_m.jpg

 

 

“Zombies” In Nursing Homes

We have a long history being unable or unwilling to meet the needs of older and even younger people with disabilities without warehousing them in nursing homes.  Yes, there are standards of care that these homes must meet; but people often only want to provide minimum standards of care so that the home will be reimbursed.

Recently a friend of mine was admitted to a nursing home and I have visited there several times.  The thing that I noticed on my visits there were the people who looked like “zombies”.  Previously I had only seen people who were catatonic schizophrenics that looked like “zombies.”

The people I saw in the nursing homes were neatly dressed and had their hair nicely combed, but they sat silently and immobile in a chair or wheelchair.  At mealtimes, their chairs were moved so that they sat up next to the table.  These women and men posed no problems as long as they remained that way.

They had joined the troop of the forgotten.  They caused no trouble for the staff and would stay anywhere the staff had put them.  I guess you could call them the living dead or “zombies.”  It seemed like they had just given up and the staff saw them that way too.