Category Archives: Mental health and the elderly

An Important Question About Alzheimer’s Finally Answered

Via @mindbodygreen by @emma_loewe

[Excerpt only. Read full article here.]

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating disease that affects an estimated 5.3 million Americans.

But beyond its widespread reach, there’s not much we know for sure about the brain disorder. Its cause and progression have yet to be conclusively explained, and scientists can’t figure out why it’s so much more common in older populations. (More than 90% of cases occur in people 60 or over.)

Amidst all the questions surrounding Alzheimer’s, researchers at the University of California just uncovered an important answer. After compiling data from previous studies, they’ve located the brain region where the disease first strikes: the locus coeruleus (LC). [Continue reading here.]


LOEWE, Emma.  2016.  Researchers Just Answered An Important Question About Alzheimer’s [Web:] Mind Body Green.  [Date of Access:] 19 February 2016.

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Memory Loss? Seven common Causes Of Forgetfulness

Via @HarvardHealth

Image via Psychology Today [3]

[Read full article by  Harvard Men’s Health Watch here.]

Have you ever went into a room, fully prepared to do something there and, upon arriving, that ‘something’ totally went AWOL from your mind? During a conversation, have you ever meant to tell a friend something, only to forget exactly what you wanted to tell? Names, for instance, that is quite a problem these days….always on the tip of the tongue, but rarely in your memory. It is frustrating; and certainly cause for concern. Are you experiencing the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s or Dementia?

“Anyone concerned about memory should talk with a doctor for further evaluation,’ says Dr. David Hsu, a geriatric psychiatrist with the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.” [1]

Harvard Health suggests that, before visiting your medical practitioner, you need to consider the following questions:

[Excerpt only. For more detailed discussion, click here to read full article.]

  1. Are you fatigued?
  2. What medications to you take?
  3. How much sleep are you getting?
  4. Do you exercise regularly?
  5. Are you stressed?
  6. Are you depressed?
  7. How much alcohol to you drink?

Any of the above can reduce memory performance. Some medications and alcohol have even been known to cause total memory black-outs. Society is moving at an alarming pace and we struggle to keep up, so feeling stressed and fatigued may be a normal part of your life, but it can indeed cause memory loss. The same goes for depression and lack of sleep. Answering the above questions doesn’t mean you’ve diagnosed yourself effectively and that you can now rest assured that your memory loss is normal. Visiting your physician is still important, as there can be underlying problems leading to fatigue, lack of sleep, depression and so forth. Having answered these 7 questions though, you will be prepared to have an open and honest discussion with your physician and it will certainly help him to decide on further tests and treatment.

Memory Healers posted a brilliant infographic that contains 8 tips those struggling with memory loss can use to help them get by. Have a look below:

Image via MemoryHealers [2]

Dr. Hsu adds that “a perceived change in your memory performance may simply be due to the well-documented slowdown in thinking speed with aging. Give your brain a break, and take a little more time to recall facts and to commit new ones to memory.” [1]


  1. Harvard Health: Memory Slips? Consider these seven common causes of forgetfulness.
  2. Memory Healers: Prevent Memory Loss
  3. Psychology Today: Case of the Malleable Memory [Image only]

Worlds Oldest Yoga Teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch’s Secrets to Long Life

Via @Yoga_Journal


“I don’t want to know what I can’t do. I’m only interested in what I can do.”

If there’s living proof that yoga is the fountain of youth, it’s Tao Porchon-Lynch. The 96-year-old Guinness World Records-certified oldest yoga teacher in the world still teaches regular classes in Westchester County, New York. That is, when she’s not traveling around the world, coming in first place in ballroom dance contests, writing books, and makingvideos with Tara Stiles.

Porchon-Lynch’s life story feels like a movie (and it could end up being one, after she finishes writing her autobiography at the end of this year). The former MGM actress and model for brands like Lanvin and Chanel, who was born in French India, crossed paths with Marlene Dietrich, Gene Kelly, and Gandhi. She studied with B. K. S. Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois. And yes, you will work up a sweat in her yoga class, and you probably won’t be able to resist hugging her.

“Last weekend I came in first place in a dance contest. My partner was 70 years younger, and all ages were participating. I danced all day for two days then I taught two yoga classes Sunday morning. I wasn’t really tired.”

We sat down with the lovely-as-ever Porchon-Lynch last week after taking her Monday night class at the JCC of Mid-Westchester, where despite a recent slip on the dance floor and three hip replacements, she’s still demonstrating most of the asanas in her class. “I don’t believe in calamities,” she explains. “I don’t want to know what I can’t do. I’m only interested in what I can do.”

Most Important Yoga Lessons

Yoga Journal: You’ve been teaching yoga for 56 years and practicing it for 72 years. Are there any particular poses that you credit with helping to keep you young and fit?

Tao Porchon-Lynch: Breathing is more important than anything else—poses that are not done correctly are not going to help. It’s how much you can feel the breath moving throughout your body. If you’re in touch with the breath inside you, there’s nothing you can’t do.

YJ: Is there anything about yoga that you wish you knew as a younger person?

TPL: Not really. As a teacher, the most important thing is to have iscompassion. We’re not all made the same—you can’t tell everyone to do it the same way. Sometimes it’s better for students to stop physically and continue mentally, rather than strain. It’s important to watch your students to make sure you can help them.

YJ: You studied with yoga greats like the late B.K.S. Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois. What are the biggest lessons you learned from them?

TPL: They were both the greatest yoga masters. I loved Iyengar for one thing—his alignment, which was always perfect, and his principles of alignment. Pattabhi Jois was wonderful, all breathing, which was what I was looking for. I learned so much from Pattabhi that had to do with my inner self.

See also A Tribute to B.K.S. Iyengar

World's Oldest Yoga Teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch

The World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher on Aging Gracefully

YJ: Do you meditate?

TPL: I believe in nature. To me meditation is, if I see a flock of geese across the sky, I’ll stop my car. I don’t need to make it regular.

See also Why Meditating in Nature Is Easier

YJ: You’re still ballroom dancing?

TPL: Last weekend I came in first place in a dance contest. My partner was 70 years younger, and all ages were participating. I danced all day for two days then I taught two yoga classes Sunday morning. I wasn’t really tired.

YJ: Do you think being a lifelong vegetarian has helped you live a long, healthy life?

TPL: Maybe. I don’t believe in getting old. In America, look how many beautiful trees are hundreds of years old. They are losing leaves but they are not dying—they are recycling. In a few months, spring will start up again. You can learn so much from nature.

See also Aging Gracefully

Tao Porchon-Lynch’s 5 Rules for a Long, Happy Life

1. Don’t procrastinate—tomorrow never comes.
2. You can’t believe in something if you only do it halfway.
3. Each day, whatever is in your mind materializes.
4. Never think about what can go wrong. I know my best day is every day.
5. If you wait for something good to happen, it will. Don’t look for tragedy.

See also 4 Anti-Aging Tips to Grow Older the Right Way

10 Ingredients You Need For A Happy Life

Via @MindBodyGreen


10 Ingredients You Need For A Happy Life

I was brought up the eldest in a fairly happy, Catholic, and dysfunctional household with seven siblings and a history of depression and alcoholism in our family tree. 

Somehow this grew me into a highly functional, demanding perfectionist with a strong tendency to morph into the Overarching Boss of Everything once I became a Mom.

My journey through midlife has partly cured me of this attitude, by bringing me nose to nose with this miserable character. (Being with my kids helped, too). So I wrote myself this prescription for relaxing into Ease and Enjoyment, after the fact.

Perhaps someone else who is just realizing they are their own worst party pooper will read this and gather some hints about how to relax and enjoy life.

Here are the 10 Ingredients you need for a happy life: 

1. Kindness to self and others: No belittlement, bullying or harsh criticism allowed! Not even yelling obscenities at aggressive drivers who cut you off! Send them blessings instead and it will boomerang back to you.

2. Right eating: Finding the balance between the desire for pleasure and fun, and real nourishment, what truly feeds your body. There is no one-size fits all in terms of food – experiment, be curious, don’t follow fads. I have gone from extreme vegan to macrobiotic to carnivore before finding the right food for my body and blood sugar (steak ‘n eggs for breakfast)!

3. Respect for your energy levels: Ask yourself: what drains me and what feeds me? These are the two best questions to finding balance. If you’re exhausted and cranky, how can you be of service to others, let alone yourself?

4. Peace: Find the oasis within in stillness, submerse yourself and dive in regularly, every day if not every minute. Life is short. Heaven is now.

5. Ease: Catch up on the sleep deficit induced by all work and no play, take more down time to chill and learn the power of doing nothing: nap often.

6. Friends: Never underestimate the importance of being seen and heard by friends who love and fully support you, accept you as is.

7. Gratitude Attitude: Appreciation is a wonderful antidote to bitterness. Give thanks, give back, pay it forward. It’s a practice that feels forced at first, but grows your bliss.

8. Creative expression: Let your soul out to play: collage, art, doodling, weaving, singing, dancing, bass lessons, tai chi; include your five senses and get a whole body rush, while being in the Flow, lose track of time, rediscover childlike wonder. A powerful game changer.

9. Embrace your shadow: Accept your faults, withdraw projections onto others (the blame and shame game); practice saying I am flawed and fabulous, and I am enough.

10. Emotional Wisdom: Let tears flow, and laughter ring, give hugs aplenty. Feeling is Healing. And PAIN stands for Pay attention inside Now!


OK, I left out something rather important for a blissful life, Sexual Pleasure. This one took me a long time to allow. (Must be all that religion, wanting to be a saint and being celibate for 10 years?) All I can say is, allow, allow, allow.

There are many elements to happiness, of course: where you work and play, how many friends and companions really see you and “get” you; the health of your children, parents, tragedies, but one thing is for sure: the size of your house, car and bank account are way down on the list.

The worst Bliss Busters? 

Perfectionism, Extreme-anything, Rigidity of beliefs, Negative thinking – how can you find ways to move into more body ease, more supple enjoyment, more light and laughter? Put on a soothing music CD, light a candle and write about this in your journal right now.

If nothing else works, pray for guidance from your angels and guardian spirits. Our purpose on earth is to enjoy, to be in joy, as much as possible.

Besides, self-flagellation is so passé….

Photo Credit:

About the Author

Jennifer Boire is a recovering perfectionist, the author of The Tao of Turning Fifty, and leads retreats and Creative Journaling classes for women in the Montreal area.

Survey Finds Patient Engagement Can Improve Outcomes for #Parkinsons

@MichaelJFoxOrg #Infograph #PatientEngagement

Via Survey Finds Patient Engagement Can Improve Outcomes for Parkinson’s.

Date: 09/09/2014
Author: Partners in Parkinson’s

A recent survey of more than 1,500 Parkinson’s disease patients, caregivers and physicians conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of The Michael J. Fox Foundation and AbbVie reveals that information and specialized care can help patients become more engaged in their own treatment and in the Parkinson’s disease community.

The below infographic provides a dynamic look at the survey’s topline results:

Infograph: Parkinson's - patient engagement


Living with Purpose in Old Age

@TheNewOldAge #PaulaSpan #OldAge #PurposefulLife

Via The New Old Age by Paula Span

My late father had a longtime friend, a retired kosher butcher, who lived down the hall in their South Jersey apartment building. Past 90, Manny was older and frailer than my father; he leaned on a cane and could barely see well enough to recognize faces. But every morning, and again in late afternoon, he walked through my dad’s unlocked front door to be sure he was all right and to kibitz a bit.

Manny made the rounds, also looking in on several other aged residents in their so-called N.O.R.C. (naturally occurring retirement community). Unless he was ill himself, he never missed a day.

Manny’s regular reconnaissance missions come to mind when I read about purpose, which is one of those things we recognize without quite knowing how to define. To psychologists, “purpose reflects a commitment to broader life goals that helps organize your day to day activities,” Patrick Hill, a psychologist at Carleton University in Ottawa, told me in an interview.

It’s a hard quality to measure, so researchers rely on how strongly people agree or disagree with statements like these:

“Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them.”
“I feel good when I think of what I have done in the past and what I hope to do in the future.”
“I live life one day at a time and do not really think about the future.”
“I sometimes feel as if I have done all there is to do in life.”

It turns out that purpose is, on many counts, a good thing to have, long associated with satisfaction and happiness, better physical functioning, even better sleep. “It’s a very robust predictor of health and wellness in old age,” said Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago.

She and her colleagues have been tracking two cohorts of older people living independently in greater Chicago, assessing them regularly on a variety of physical, psychological and cognitive measures. The subjects agreed to donate their brains after their deaths.

What have the scientists learned? Let’s start with arguably the most feared disease of old age. Following almost 1,000 people (age 80, on average) for up to seven years, Dr. Boyle’s team found thatthe ones with high purpose scores were 2.4 times more likely to remain free of Alzheimer’s than those with low scores; they were also less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor.

“It also slowed the rate of cognitive decline by about 30 percent, which is a lot,” Dr. Boyle added.

In a subset of 246 people who died, autopsies found that many of the purposeful subjects also showed the distinctive markers of Alzheimer’s. “But even for people developing the plaques and tangles in their brains, having purpose in life allows you to tolerate them and still maintain your cognition,” Dr. Boyle said.

Purposeful people were less likely to develop disabilities. And they were less likely to die: a sample of 1,238 people followed for up to five years (average age: 78) by Rush researchers found that those with high purpose had roughly half the mortality rate of those with low purpose.

This protective effect holds through the years, according to a recent study by Dr. Hill, which relied on a national longitudinal study that enrolled 7,100 Americans aged 20 to 75. Those who died, in all age groups, scored significantly lower on purpose-in-life scales. The researchers looked at whether purpose had less effect after retirement, when “you’re starting to lose those structures you had, a natural way to organize your daily life,” Dr. Hill said. Somewhat to his surprise, work status didn’t matter.

In fact, both the Rush and the Carleton teams controlled for a host of other factors known to correlate with well-being — depression or “negative affect,” social relationships, chronic medical conditions and disability, demographic differences — and report that purpose in life, all by itself, appears to have a potent ability to improve and extend lives.

So how can we help older people hang onto a sense of purpose if their strength and mobility declines and their dependence on others increases? I’d like to hear your ideas. Isn’t that one of the most dispiriting aspect of life in nursing homes or assisted living, after all — the sense some residents develop that there’s no reason to live? Older people can stay busy with activities and multiple medical appointments, but many feel that what they do doesn’t matter.

“They want to make a contribution,” Dr. Boyle said. “They want to feel part of something that extends beyond themselves.” Though what provides purpose in one’s life varies, merely taking care of oneself probably doesn’t qualify. People with purpose “have a sense of their role in the community and the broader world,” Dr. Boyle said. She particularly mentioned mentoring, passing one’s memories or experiences on to younger people, as a way to stoke a sense of purpose.

The Jewish Association Serving the Aging, which provides services in metropolitan New York, takes a different tack. The organization’s Institute for Senior Action has trained more than a thousand older people to be “rabble rousers”; graduates have mobilized to restore city funding cut from a center for the elderly, for example.

Or maybe you adapt the things you’ve done and valued all your life. Manny, my dad’s friend, used to make home deliveries from his butcher shop. He was used to regularly visiting members of the small Jewish community in my hometown, hearing about their families and their lives as he dropped off bundles of kosher meat wrapped in paper.

Decades later, when his world had contracted, he was essentially still at it. He was providing a service (he did actually once find a neighbor on the floor and summoned an ambulance), and he was very diligent about it.

I’d call that purpose, wouldn’t you?

Paula Span is the author of “When the Time Comes: Families With Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions.”

Image via: BeyondBingo.jpg (319×270).