Jessica Langbaum, the associate director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix has no formal mental fitness program. She doesn’t do crossword puzzles or play computer brain games.
“Just sitting down and doing Sudoku isn’t probably going to be the one key thing that’s going to prevent you from developing Alzheimer’s disease,” she says.
Instead of using a formal brain training program, she simply goes to work. “My job is my daily cognitive training. While you are still in the work force you are getting that daily challenge of multitasking, of remembering things, of processing information,” she says.
She realized early on in her research that puzzles and games weren’t the answer to preventing Alzheimer’s dementia because they tend to focus on the one very narrow task. “The result is like exercising just one muscle in your body. That muscle will get stronger, but your overall fitness isn’t going to change. “
Recent research also suggest that social interaction may be a better form of mental exercise than brain training. People who have a lot of social interactions, particularly in mid-life, have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s dementia in later life. There is something about being around people that is helpful for our brains.
Langbaum has some advice for anyone looking for a way to keep their brain healthy, especially if you are out of the workforce. “If you like crossword puzzles, do them, but try something new. And trying something new that brings you enjoyment is the key. Don’t do it if you don’t like it.”
Recipe of the Week:
The temperature is going to drop this weekend, indicating the beginning of soup season. How about kicking it off with a Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup. You can roast vegetables with the intention of making soup or you can use whatever roast vegetables you have leftover to make this soup a part of your next-day meal plan.
Quote of the Week:
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
– Anais Nin