The other day a young guy seated behind the curtains and waiting to play, asked me what my table tennis rating was. I wasn’t sure, but I said "2021" anyway. The guy cocked his head and looked at me skeptically. And then, possibly swayed by my white hair, he said straight out that he thought maybe that I was either exaggerating or confusing the year with my rating. I tried to hide the socially awkward situation I was in by chuckling defensively, and meekly admitted to a lower rating, one more consistent with Columbus’ arrival in the New World. Well, so what was I to tell him, that my Alzheimer’s was kicking in? C’mon, it’s a senior moment. Sometimes I may not immediately recall my zip code, either. Does that mean I’m senile or presenile? No. Emphatically no! What about a phone number or a close friend or family member whose name that you suddenly can’t come up with? Same thing. What about keys that you can’t find, or words that are suddenly illusive or names of actors that are so familiar but yet beyond immediate identification? Same. Stuff happens like that, but it’s not really abnormal or an indication that you have dementia if you eventually remember all these things, albeit with some lag time. None of us, those with Parkinson’s and so-called normal aging people, are as sharp as we were in our 20’s. That’s the way it goes. We’re slower and have to recognize and admit to it. It shouldn’t be embarrassing, but it can be.
Of course, some of us will inevitably decline and have memory problems leading to real intellectual deficits and a diagnosis of dementia (Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia – to name a few). Can we do anything to prevent this cognitive loss? Maybe. I’ve gone to an NIH (National Institute of Health) internet site to get an honest, researched answer to this question that confronts all of us when we get old. Here is what they say (verbatim) at preventing our brains from deteriorating:
“A recent review of research looked carefully at the evidence on ways to prevent or delay Alzheimer's dementia or age-related cognitive decline. Led by a committee of experts from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), the review found "encouraging but inconclusive" evidence for three types of interventions:
So, bottom line: Stay active, live a healthy lifestyle. Have medical check-ups. Challenge yourself (learn new things). Play ping pong. Lao Du