To Beat Alzheimer’s Beef Up Your Brain

by Kerry Cue

I’m trying to remember the name of a pioneering neuroscientist. ALOIS … What’s his name? You know. ALOIS  … Alzheimer. Alois Alzheimer first observed the  amyloid  plaques in the brain of an otherwise healthy patient in 1906. ALOIS. I think it’s a start if I can remember that name.

The article BANKING AGAINST ALZHEIMER’S written by Professor David Bennet, director of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, was published in  The Scientific American last year. I was expecting to find news of an  imminent  cure, but I  was  sadly disappointed. According to Prof Bennet, who is in charge of  100  scientists working on the project, ‘drug development for treating Alzheimer’s has been slow and marked  mostly by  disappointment.’

Moreover, ’as researchers continue to untangle the intricate web of disease mechanisms, it makes sense to focus on preventing Alzheimer’s in the  first place—to apply what we know about strengthening our brain to withstand the hits that come with aging.’ And  here  is the  big  news.  Subjects  who  faired  better  regarding  Alzheimer’s had  more  neurons, that is heavier brains. So beef up that brain of yours for successful aging.

Dali’s surreal paintings inadvertantly capture the disjointed memory of Alzheimer’s.I added the cloud border to push the imagery even further back into the memory.

11 ways to stave off Alzheimer’s*:

1. Pick your parents well! Then you’ll get good genes, a good education and avoid emotional neglect.

2. Keep physically and mentally active.

3. Be social.

4. Do new things.

5. Relax. Be happy.

6. Avoid negative types including family members.

7. Work hard.

8. Set goals. Find a purpose in life.

9. Healthy heart, healthy mind. Diet and exercise matter.

10. Eat that green leafy stuff and other vegetables.

11. Be lucky!

*As suggested by Professor Bennet according to current reseach.

63 Year old Style Icon

by Kerry Cue

Looking  for  a  quote  to  head  this  post  about  63 – year – old  New  Yorker,  Lyn  Slater, Associate Professor and Style Icon, I couldn’t find one that fitted the bill. So I made one up. Her Accidental Icon Instagram account has 100,000 followers! Her Accidental Icon blog is equally fascinating.

Style does not depend on age. Look at the images of Lyn (below) taken from her Instagram account. Confidence and flair seem to sum up the impact of her fashion style. May there be more like her.

 

 

Binge Drinking? It’s a Middle-Aged Problem.

by Kerry Cue

sibylesque-drinking-quote

The article quoted (above) in The Telegraph, UK, has fascinating information about the drinking habits of the 55 – 64 year old demographic. This age group is not generally associated with reckless behaviour, but statistics prove otherwise. According to Dr Tony Rao, a consultant psychiatrist and a leading expert in substance abuse among the older population, “The baby boomers have very liberal attitudes towards alcohol.”

Research by the UK lottery-funded, Drink Wise, Age Well program found:

’17 per cent of over 50s class themselves as “increasing risk drinkers”. Among the older adults surveyed who said they were now drinking more than they previously did, 40 per cent blamed it on retirement, 26 per cent on bereavement and 20 per cent on a loss of sense of purpose.’

sibylesque-drinking-on-the-sly

If you earn more, you drink more and in retirement such bad habits can grow as you have more time. Retirement did not pan out well for ex-rock star Phil Collins, 65. In his recent memoir, Not Yet Dead, he described the problems he faced retiring to the edge of Lake Geneva, Switzerland. It sounds idyllic. But firstly, his 3rd marraige fell apart. And then, the afternoon glass of wine turned into a couple of bottles. He had too much time on his hands. According to The Telegraph article:

‘Before long he was downing vodka straight from the bottle for breakfast.  Eventually he ended up in a Swiss intensive care with acute pancreatitis.’

He is now back touring and on the wagon.

You will find more information at the Drink Wise, Age Well website.

Could Indigestion Cause Dementia?

By Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Meds Toxicity Quote

The Telegraph, UK, has just reported on a large German study that links an anti-indigestion drug, called a proton pump inhibitor or PPI, to dementia.

Don’t panic just yet is usually my first reaction to a single study, but this time the numbers are so big. The study looked at 74,000 patients over 75 in a 7 year period (2004- 2011). In that time, 29,510 developed dementia. That is 40%.

Dementia in a bottle

But the group that took PPIs had a 44% higher chance of developing Dementia. There were 2,950 taking PPIs and therefore the risk of developing Dementia was 58% in that group.

One of the problems with age and medication is TOXICITY. As we age our livers do not process meds as well and the concentration levels of a drug can build up in the blood stream. Or a patient might loose weight. Or the dose is too high to begin with. Or we take multiple drugs. Sleeping tablets can be particularly problematic. (See: It’s Detox or Dementia: Why Pill Poppin’ Mamas Should be Worried.)

The American Assoc of Retired People has a great article here. This article sites 10 medications that should be carefully monitored as you age because of their potential to do harm including:

Problem Pills

…………………………………

Problem Pills 2

A feisty, 70-something GRANDMA hits the big screen. Mature age feminism. Bring it on!

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque fool quote

There are two reasons to get excited about this film. (New York Times Review) Firstly, it’s called Grandma and Ellie, the lead character, is a feisty, take-no-prisoners 70-something and a long way from the doddering little old lady stereotype.

Secondly, Ellie is played by Lily Tomlin, a comedian I’ve admired since she first hit our screens in Laugh In in the sixties. What’s not to like about a hard-hitting comic feminist who says:

“We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.”

Lily Tomlin as Grandma Ellie

Lily Tomlin as Grandma Ellie

Grandma Ellie, according to Tomlin, has attitude. ‘If somebody is lying or fudging an issue, she just can’t take it and she is just gonna rail against it.’ That’s an attitude many of us will recognise. Significantly, Lily Tomlin turns 76 on the 1st September this year. Tomlin is smart, sassy, uncompromising and funny.

We need to see vibrant older women on screen as they make growing old look interesting.

Photo Source: Film Website

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First Communion, First Confession: Bless Me Father for I have a Fake Tan

By Donna Jones & Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Toni Morrison Quote 1a

Tiaras, white princess dresses, salon hair, make up and fake tans. I am not describing a wedding party or a debut set. Today, in Australia, some 7 year old girls go through the full ‘bridal makeover package’ to make their First Holy Communion.

Do parents realise they are sexualising their daughters for a religious ceremony? Or, is the sexualisation of young girls in our culture so endemic, parents do not think about it at all?

So girls learn at 7 years of age that:

– their real skin is not good enough (They have beautiful skin)

– their real cheeks are too rosy (They must be made to look like an adult)

– their real hair is too ordinary (They must have supermodel hair)

Sibylesque First Communion

This is not just a BODY IMAGE issue. This story reflects a shift in values and connection to community. In his Theory of Cognitive Development Piaget used the term ‘decentering’, to define a child’s ability to think outside him or herself, to think of others. This stage stretches from 7 – 12 years of age. So at the very point where children start to think how others might feel in a situation, we turn the spotlight on them. We create little narcissists.

Sad, isn’t it.

As for the tiara, that’s fine. Every young girl is a princess.

Photo Source: Pinterest.

Toni Morrison Quote: link

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10 Things Kids Want in a Garden as Voted by Kids

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Valerie Andrews Quote

According to the NY Times (Screen addition is taking its toll on children, Jane Brody, 6 July, 2015) screen time is eating away children’s lives. We, The Sibyls, are so concerned we have asked the question ‘How did childhood become a prison sentence’ and what can we, grandparents, do about it? One answer is, grandchildren need more time in the outdoors. But we also need to listen to the kids.

I went to a talk by Michelle Rayner,environmental educator and Vice Principal Patch Primary School, Victoria. thepatchbanner Before the school developed a substantial part of their garden they asked not only what the kids wanted in a garden but they also asked the kids to design it. The patch students at work Here are the 10 things the kids wanted in a garden:

  1. Water
  2. Animals
  3. Place to Build Stuff
  4. Maze
  5. A meeting place & stage
  6. Pizza oven and garden
  7. Artwork
  8. Secluded spaces (hideyholes)
  9. Edible plants
  10. Play space

Here is a video of The Patch School’s kid-friendly, Eco-garden:The Learning Landscape

The garden now boasts a frog bog (water), ducks, chickens, rabbits and mice,

Students from the Patch with chickens

a construction area (Even 5 year olds use hammers),

Young students use a hammer

a native grass maze, central meeting place and stage, pizza oven and garden (Michelle has cooked a hundred pizzas in one day!!!), student sculptures and other art works, a willow den (like below) , fruit trees and a veggie patch, and lots of play spaces.

willow den 1 Photo source: The Patch Website, screen grabs from above video, pinterest.

Link: Quote Top from A Passion for this Earth,Valerie Andrews.

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Your memory is a building site you wander around in work clothes constantly repairing, retrieving, and rebuilding.

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque  Billy collins quote

The poem ‘Forgetfulness’ by Billy Collins is one of my all time favourite poems. I first heard it in the car and had to stop the car to listen. I found it hilarious and gloriously lyrical and true to the human condition all at once. You will find the full poem – it’s very short – here.

As I had to lead a workshop on poetry at a recent conference, I started the workshop by reading this poem. The workshop participants, all in the forties and fifties, had one answer.

‘It’s about Alzheimer’s’ they said.

Only one other participant saw the poem as I saw it.

“I thought it was about me’ she said.

Sibylesque Joan Didion Memory quote

And this had me thinking about our perceptions of memory and aging. We protect ourselves from the ‘horrors’ of aging by seeing the OLD as THEM and, naturally, we are US. This keeps us safe. We aren’t like them. Our memories are fine. Maybe, the odd ‘senior’s moment’.

Memory is, has always been, something of a major building project. We collect bric-a-brac and build memories. Then we rebuild these memories, often shoddily, every time we think of them. We neglect some memories. How many of us over 60 can remember how to do a cartwheel, say, or sing Psalm 23, the Psalm you sang in the church you used to go to as a child. Hint: Sheep are involved. Now it is irrelevant to many Australians. Only 8% of us are regular churchgoers.

So memory is not something that is all there or all gone. It is a building site you wander around in work clothes constantly repairing, retrieving, and completely rebuilding when necessary. Some areas are difficult to access. There is a pathway, but where? Often you are peering into the dark. Some memories fade, decay because they never have the light of thought shone upon them. Other memories seem so new, so sparkling, so complete; you stand back and watch them in awe. Other memories are both hidden and dangerous. There should be warning lights, but there are none. Suddenly you are there and the pain is real.

I wrote three books about my childhood when I was in my thirties. Exercising my memory everyday for months, I could recall every cupboard in our kitchen and every object in those cupboards. I could hear my parents speak. How accurate were those memories? Who knows? But they were vivid. Brilliantly vibrant memories.

It is not just the old or demented who forget. We all remember. We all forget.

Or as Billy Collins wrote:

‘and even now as you memorise the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,

the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

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Turning 50? Should it be a Rite of Passage?

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Croning Quote 1Listening to some wonderful stories while attending a Celebrants’ Conference in Sydney the other week, I was flabbergasted to discover there was such a thing as a Croning Ceremony. I was delighted to meet Jacqueline Hope, a Celebrant from WA, who has conducted such a ceremony. See here and here.

Who would want to be called a crone? No one. Yet there are two conflicting meanings of this word: (Free Dictionary)

  1. An old woman considered to be ugly; a hag.
  2. A woman who is venerated for experience, judgment, and wisdom.

Can we reclaim the word crone as a positive force? I doubt it, but many women today treat their 50th birthday as a rite of Passage. This is a New Age take on the pagan/Wicca belief that there are three stages of womanhood: Virgin, Mother, Crone. Of course, others might consider their 60th birthday as their entry into their wise years. Or, perhaps, your 70th birthday has special meaning for you.

The Fabulous Stage is represented by Beatrix Ost, Advanced Style, NY.

The Fabulous Stage is represented by Beatrix Ost, Advanced Style, NY.

The respected mythologist Jospeh Campbell referred to crones appearing to help the child of destiny in a time of danger and obscurity.

Others call this ritual a Wise Woman Ceremony, either way it is claiming the mature years as a positive stage. From Barbara Hannah Grufferman in The Huffingtonpost to The Women at Woodstock, who run weekends for women over 50, women are gathering together to celebrate the joy and wisdom of this their ‘FABULOUS’ stage.

Photo source: Unsourced.

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If you learn how to die, you’ll learn how to live

Sibylesque Being Mortal quote

BEING MORTAL: Medicine and What Matters in the End

By Atul Gawande 

Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company, 2014.

Review by Kerry Cue

Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande

The reason this book is so meaningful, so compelling and why it ranks as a rare must-read is because, in telling the story of how to die a good death, it slowly addresses an equally important question namely ‘how  are we to live a good and meaningful life?’

Sibylesque The three fates

Atul Gawande, surgeon and writer for The New Yorker, dreams of new ways of caring for the frail and old. He questions the bureaucratic nature of aged care institutions where the elderly are kept ‘safe’, but hardly ‘alive’. And he rails against the invasive, painful and ultimately futile medical procedures inflicted on the dying. Yet this book is no dry academic tome. Gawande tells the storxy of dying and death of his father, also a surgeon, from first discovering the tumor in the spinal column, through the family’s struggling with medical options – operate? His father might become a quadriplegic. Don’t operate, he may become a quadriplegic! – to his father’s final days.

There is one strong and clear message from this thoughtful exploration of the end stage. Patients could have good days even when dying. But to achieve this goal they must be asked, or think about, at least, ‘what are your greatest fears?’ and ‘what are your current goals?’ Simple questions but from the answers patients discover how they are to live in their final days and, eventually, die.

Gawande has managed to take the fear away from our modern, Western view of dying, which, in many aspects involves, an impersonal, sterile, ICU bed intubated with a tube down the throat and a total loss of control. Dying need not be like this. Gawande shows how the human spirit can flourish and life can be fully lived to the very end.

curlicue

Photo source: Unsourced book review blog, Tapestry held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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