Is Lumosity Modern Day Snake Oil?

snake oilMany of us with a relative who has been diagnosed with dementia wonder if we can do anything to help guide our brain health. I’ve had two parents with dementia (Alzheimer’s and Vascular) which was one of the reasons I ended up on The Dr. Oz Show.

The expert Dr. Oz interviewed was Cynthia R. Green, Ph.D. who is a clinical psychologist, author, and one of America’s foremost experts on brain health. We have stayed in touch and when she recently shared a story that the scientist behind the most comprehensive study of brain training say apps like Lumosity are based on shaky science, I wasn’t really surprised. This month, the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on Lumosity, which has agreed to pay a $2 million settlement. “Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.”

I have read several reports over the years that list some key elements of brain health and we all know there is a substantial element of our health that we can’t control. However, it does bother me that some people were lead to believe that playing games is a silver bullet. Exercise, socialization, the adoption of a Mediterranean diet, fish oil supplements, and cognitive training (versus brain games) are elements of my focus to lead a different outcome than my parents. It may still be for naught.

Plan B for me has been the use of systems like MemoryBanc to document my personal accounts, and details; and estate planning to put the tools in place to define my wishes and give those the tools to help should I need it.

While we would all love to be given a simple solution to perfect health, I hope you will consider implementing a plan b. Your loved ones will benefit the most. Wished.


You want to live to be 100?

50thHSLadiesThis is the year of 50 for me and my high school buds. As I have witnessed my parents dementia’s, I pledged early on to lead a different life. I believe what Dr. Oz told me when I appeared on the show, and have found many other research studies confirming that your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s is more closely tied to your lifestyle than your heredity.

Parade Magazine recently shared the 5 Surprising Tips on Staying Vital and they include:

1) Start prevention early since the process can begin 20 to 30 years before you have symptoms.

2) A few simple changes will help you fight a whole range of disease — smoking is forbidden and one hour of aerobic exercise daily is recommended. They also mention strength training and I was surprised when I recently learned that with every decade, you lose 10% of your muscle. The only way to combat it is to increase your training.

3) Helping your body helps your brain. The article states that “aerobic exercise is more important in enhancing brain function and memory than any other activity.”

4) Being social plays a huge role in preventing dementia. I have worked very hard on this but have found it immensely rewarding.

5) Moderate amounts of Alcohol are healthy. After I witnessed my Dad’s inability to stop drinking (he thought every drink was his second), I considered eliminating alcohol all-together. However, I have just worked on changing my habits instead of going def-con five.

In line with my effort to socialize, even with a 6 a.m. start looming, I met two friends out last night to visit. One was only in town for the night. We celebrated our 50th birthday together. As we were chatting, one commented that she wanted to live to be 100. Two of us groan. I have no desire to live a life without quality, so I’m not sure I’m willing to just say I want to live to be 100. The second groaner is watching her mother progress into Alzheimer’s and said she felt doomed. I told her we are in no way doomed and she even shared the many ways she was living a life very different from her mom.

May we all find the balance and ability to work to prevent the pesky inconveniences of aging. 50 is the new 30, right? Cherished. 



Is Dementia More Pervasive?

getouttamyyardHaving two parents with dementia makes you wonder. Is it genetic, is it lifestyle or is it something else?

Yesterday, a fellow blogger asked “Is the Precipitous Rise in Dementia’s and Alzheimer’s Disease over the Last Twenty to Thirty Years Linked to LIfestyle?  It’ s a good read with some interesting facts about diabetes as well as the changes in our habits and food.

Earlier this week, the BBC reported Exercise ‘significant role’ in reducing risk of dementia, long-term study finds. They boiled it down to 5 key factors:

  1. regular exercise,
  2. not smoking,
  3. low bodyweight,
  4. healthy diet and
  5. low alcohol intake.

Exercise was the most heavily weighted factor.

In general, we should accept that our bodies are simply outliving our brains. Our life expectancy has increased by ten years since the 1960’s. Is it that the science has helped us qualify that personality changes and the loss of short-term memory are not normal signs of aging? I think it’s a multitude of factors that will take decades to unravel.

Most baby boomers are familiar with the jokes about old neighbors yelling at kids to get out of their yards. Many friends have shared stories about nutty things their grand-mothers would do. Has this been happening in those that age longer than medicine identified?

An aging brain works slower, but the outcome should be the same. We know that now. Informed.