Neurobics: Exercising the Brain Body Connection Tamara Burket, RN, MS, ACNS-BC, GCNS-BC, CCRN, FGNLA Penn State Hershey Medical Center Thanks to: David Gill, MD Linda Shumaker Pennsylvania Health and Aging Coalition
Theories Of Aging • Wear & Tear – Free radicals – Breakdown – DNA damaged
• Cells can only reproduce a limited # of times • Immune system – Less functional – Attacks itself
The Aging Brain • Biologic • Psychologic • Social
Normal Aging of the Brain • Brain weight drops • Ventricles widen • Fewer neurons • Increase in plaques & tangles • Less blood flow • Atrophy
• • • •
Neurons shrink Fewer synapses Slower Word lists decrease
• Starts with general decline at age 30! • After 60 verbal decline more notable • Decision making slows • Reaction time lengthens 5
Normal Brain Changes in Older Adults
• Normal age-related memory changes • Attentional changes in the aged
What’s Normal? • “I can’t think of the word—it’s on the tip of my tongue” – Can be normal – Difficulty with naming (especially people’s names) is normal, but other parts of language should not change
• “It’s normal to be forgetful at my age” – Not normal – Short term memory should be preserved at least until your 70’s 7
What’s Normal? “Mom, you just aren’t as flexible as you used to be. Why is it taking you so long learn how to use the computer?” – Can be normal – Mental flexibility and abstract reasoning decline with age
• “I am just not as fast at things anymore” – Can be normal – Processing speed slows with age
• “I get distracted so easily” – Can be normal
What’s Normal? • “I just am not as smart as I used to be” – Not normal – Comprehensive knowledge should remain intact
This animation shows how we achieve maximal “smartness” early in life and need to work against those forces that negatively affect our cognition (cognitive reserve idea) . Brain diseases Stroke Head injury Alcohol Stress
Genetics Education Health Social environment
Health Diet Exercise Alcohol Social engagement Mental activity Age
Figure adapted from Richards M and Deary I J. Ann. Neurol. 2005.
No Longer Thought to Prevent Dementia: • High intake of fish & n-3 fatty acids –less cholesterol & fatty acid • Post-menopausal hormone therapy • NSAIDS • Cholinesterase inhibitors • Vitamin E
Recommendations: The news is no news! • Modify risk factors – Antihypertensives – Glucose management • Increase physical activity • Increase mental activity • Eat well (fish, fruits, vegetables) • Stay social • Sleep
Stay Positive!! Positive People • View their cup as half full • Have self-care efficacy • Report better subjective health ratings • Stay socially engaged • AGE BETTER!!
Staying Well (3 times & we’ll remember!) • Keep medically healthy • Follow a healthy diet • Remain physically and mentally active • Reduce stress • Relationships are a good thing 14
Remember the Bad News: Normal Aging of the Brain • Brain weight drops • Ventricles widen • Fewer neurons • Increase in plaques & tangles • Less blood flow • Atrophy
• • • •
Neurons Shrink Fewer synapses Slower Word lists decrease
Good News! • Capacity to develop new synapses • Still have the capacity to develop neurons we have • Thought processes, memory, reasoning, learning are retained but may be slower 16
• Invented by Duke University neurobiologist Lawrence Katz and author Manning Rubin. • Theory: Certain brain exercises that use specific kinds of sensory stimulation to cause brain cells to secrete molecules called neurotrophins that act like nutrients to improve cellular health. • The activity should be completely removed from your regular routine. And the more senses you engage, the better. • Example: If you normally go to work using the same route, try a different one. At a stop light, roll down the window and close your eyes, listening to the sounds, feeling the air on your face.
Basics of Neurobics : • Turn on those synapses!! – Turn on those switches regularly – Old neurons grow new dendrites – Brain can still grow, adapt, and change patterns 18
USE IT OR LOSE IT!!
Compare Brain Exercise to Body Exercise How it works: Word = Exercise Brain areas = Muscle groups Maintain mental fitness, strength, & flexibility 20
Mind Body Connection Keep the synapses working!
Demonstrate the Connection • • • • •
Creative Imagery Let’s listen Tap, tap, tap… Count back from 100 by 7 Remember an event from your past & recall the details- who was there, what did you wear, what did you smell, how did you feel? • Pinch yourself!!
Neurobic Exercises • Present the brain with unusual experiences • Stimulate neural activity & connections 23
Neurobic Exercises • Use your nondominant hand • Spice up your sex life • Try new foods • Use your other senses to do common tasks • Tie your shoelace backwards 24
• Read something new • Daydream • Try different music • Add a new word • Try a new dance, skill, or sport • Change a path • Stop somewhere new • Make a new friend
• • • • •
Debate Listen closely Seek criticism Try a new food Use all your senses • Do without one (sense, hand…) • Play games
The Eyes Have It! • Stare straight ahead, don’t move your eyes, what’s on the periphery? • Look ahead, but scan side to side • Show and tell • Tunes versus TV • Take a mental picture • Keep up with news
Be Creative!! • Develop your own neurobic exercises!!
Resources • Alzheimer’s Association – www.alz.org 1- (800) 652-3370 Greater PA Chapter • ADEAR – [email protected]
• The DANA Alliance for Brain Initiativeswww.dana.org • Family Caregiver Alliance – www.caregiver.org • Geriatric Mental Health Foundation – www.gmhfonline.org • Positive Aging Resource Center – positiveaging.org • Medline Plus – medlineplus.gov • Suicide Prevention Network USA – 34 www.spanusa.org