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Stop #2 on the #BeingBrainHealthy #VirtualBookTour: Conversations in Care

20 Aug

You are more likely to know someone walking through the fog of brain injury than you are to know someone with cancer.

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Really, you are.  Think about this:

  • 1.8 million people each year are diagnosed in the Emergency Room each and every year with brain injury from some kind of blow to the head
  • 700,000 people have strokes that have some thinking deficits as part of the package, each and every year

Add to that the fact that no one really keep stats on those brain injuries related to chemo-therapy, anesthesia, medications, and neurological diseases that pop up each and every year. Now consider unknown number of combat-related brain injuries and all those brain injuries that are still significant but not diagnosed in the ER (like mine).

Trust me. You know someone who has had a brain injury.

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In today’s featured broadcast on the Being Brain Healthy Virtual Book Tour I speak with an amazing woman, Tami Neuman from the Care Radio Network and host of Conversations in Care. Tami has  years of experience caring for dementia patients and she really gets it that “reality” (yes those are air quotes) is not the same for everyone and that support for those with brain challenges is best given with a healthy dose of compassion and joy.

In addition to everyday brain health and turning up the noise on life, Tami and I spoke about promoting dignity, self-respect, and understanding for those we are supporting by treating each as intelligent, vibrant adults. We talked about how I realized one day that we all (yes all of us) speak to people who are struggling to think or understand as if they were children – we speak slowly and clearly using simple, tiny words – and that is just not OK.

Listen in our conversation HERE.  Warning: Listening to Conversations in Care may be habit forming!

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What have you noticed about how people change when they care for others?

Here’s to remembering to put dignity, self-respect, and quality of life at the core of caring for others.

Be Purposeful to Decrease Cognitive Decline: Day 29 NaBloPoMo

29 Nov

I am a bit of research geek… I know and completely own that fact.  In most cases I try to keep the “statistically significant” talk to a minimum but this is one of those incredibly cool instances where science meets happiness and the result just might be the best reason to talk about how “finding and living your purpose” can create a path to better thinking — in scientific terms!

Link in the Chain

The stronger the link, the more powerful the message

Did you know that leading a purposeful life could help head off cognitive decline and potentially reduce your risk of developing symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s Disease?

A study done as part of the Rush Memory and Aging Project, examined how the positive aspects of life might keep dementia at bay – the goal was to actively look at “happiness, purposefulness in life, well-being and whether those kind of concepts are associated with a decreased risk of dementia,” in concrete, measureable terms.   Guess what researchers found?   People who reported that they lead a purposeful life (scored 4.2 or better out of 5 on the purpose-in-life measure) were about 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, compared with people who scored lower….

Carl tall trees

Grow strong roots, stand tall, and cover yourself with awesomeness :)!

 

Summary of findings in US News & World Report

If that is not a good enough reason, let’s look at what it means to live with a purpose from an every day brain health perspective.

  • When you do something meaningful to you, you feel good.  When you feel good your brain releases that nourishing trifecta of chemicals (dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline) among other happiness related chemical and electrical reactions.
  • When you feel accomplished — like you have really contributed to the greater good – notice that your respiration is more even and your stress levels (and therefore your biological stress reactions) reduce.
  • Finding your purpose is a learning and exploring process that requires actively using so many areas of your brain.  You are looking at how you want to live from an intellectual, emotional, and solution oriented perspective.   In order to do that, you must use every higher-level cognitive process and give those rational thoughts emotional value.

One last reason to live a purposeful life – something my mom taught me and that carries me through.  The balance of the world is very delicate and how we live our lives can change that balance.   Always give more than you take and whenever possible, leave each place you go and person you meet a little better for you being there.    It is the right thing to do for the right reasons at the only moment in time (NOW).

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Spread your light everywhere you go.

For fellow research nerds, here are some more studies linking how we live our lives with how well our bodies age!

Positive Benefits of Positive Thoughts and Actions on Health From University of Wisconsin – Madison Institute on Aging:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1693417/pdf/15347530.pdf?pagewanted=all

On the Power of Positive Thinking From the Carnegie Melon University: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/20182190?uid=2&uid=4&sid=21103020689171

A little less geeky perspective from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/positive-thinking/SR00009

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