Take opportunity to learn more about your amazing brain

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Last month, I had the pleasure of attending a Memory Fest 2018 presentation called "Your Amazing Brain." Was it ever amazing!

The presenter was Cathee Stegall, who is a longtime Memory Care Specialist at Memory Matters, a local nonprofit organization.

Here are a few insightful "Brain Health Facts" that might be helpful to know:

  1. Brain health matters to successful aging. What you do now might lower your risk for serious memory impairment later in life.
  2. What is normal memory loss as we age? Examples of normal, age-related memory loss: Able to function independently and pursue normal activities, despite occasional memory lapses; able to recall and describe incidents of forgetfulness; occasionally forgetting an appointment or walking into a room and forgetting why you entered; not quite able to retrieve information you have "on the tip of your tongue"; losing things from time to time.

Symptoms that might indicate a problem: Difficulty performing simple tasks like paying bills and dressing appropriately; unable to recall or describe specific instances where memory loss caused problems; losing track of the date or season; words are frequently forgotten, misused or garbled; misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.

  1. The human brain has about 100 billion (yes, billion) nerve cells called neurons, of which you have 10,000 different types. Each neuron communicates with 5,000 to 200,000 other neurons to make one trillion neuronal connections.
  2. Even as a senior adult, your brain can create new neurons (neurogenesis), which can form new neural pathways (neuroplasticity). These two proven biological processes enable the brains ability to change when it is learning.
  3. What promotes learning and memory? Repetition. When learning something new, it must be repeated over and over in order to make a neural connection and become part of your memory bank. Within 20 minutes, you remember only 60 percent; within 24 hours, you remember only 30 percent; but if you practice within 24 hours, and then practice again later, you remember 80 percent.
  4. What is considered good "brain boosting" activity? The activity must teach you something new. It must be challenging. It helps if it's a skill you can build on and comes with some personal satisfaction.
  5. What hinders learning and memory? Everyone needs to know this: overall lack of focus, high-levels of anxiety and stress and specific brain disorders and diseases.

Improve your brain by avoiding multi-tasking. Practice meditation to allow your brain to relax. Eliminate all negative thoughts, and pay attention to what you say to yourself.

Be proactive by getting 150 minutes of physical exercise each week. Eat a healthy diet. Stay socially connected, and never stop learning.

To learn more about memory loss, I recommend attending the Memory Matters Brain Health Summit on April 25. For more information visit memory-matters.com.

Joe Agee is the marketing and sales director for The Seabrook of Hilton Head. www.TheSeabrook.com

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