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Do You Remember?

September 9th, 2015


Do You Remember?

Aging is a natural process but everyone still dreads being old. Not only do we lose our youthful health but we also lose memories. We remember things we want to forget, and forget things we want to remember! A lot of older people realize they have become old when they start getting forgetful and think slower. This can be something small as forgetting where the key is to forgetting close people’s name.

Actually, we “age” every second as the clock doesn’t go backward. It’s not that we start to age when we become forgetful. Forgetfulness is a dreadful symptom and a lot of products have been sold with the claim to help restore memories or slow down memory loss.

In Buddhism, there is a way to reduce forgetfulness; that is to meditate and maintain conscience at all times. However, it is hard to stop the brain from getting old. It happens to everyone and there’s no walking away from this universal fact.

Heart disease patients now can live longer because of the modern medicine and technologies. It’s not rare to see 90-year-olds with heart disease still living healthily. I have many patients who have a healthy heart but not so healthy memories. A few of them even forgot my name!

There is a study about brain exercise among more than 2,800 people age over 65 years old. They were divided into 4 groups: the first group received brain training by meditating and memorizing. The second was trained to think rationally. The third was trained to think and respond quickly such as to describe what they saw on the computer screen in limited time. The fourth was not trained at all.

From this study, the third group had the best quality of memory. However, after 5 years, they all had some memory loss, but less so for groups with training than without.

In conclusion, if the brain gets exercise all the time, no matter how old you are, you can still maintain its quality and might even ward off forgetfulness.

Moreover, another study done in the US found that older people whose brain get to work with games and puzzles, in addition to healthy food and regular exercise, have better memories than those who do not. I completely agree as I have seen many of my patients who successfully sharpen their memories by playing cards.

Our brains are very complicated and serve many functions. By training the brains to focus on just one function, you cannot expect to keep all brain-related problems at bay. Older people who play chess every day, no matter how good they are at chess, might still forget their friends’ name, just like how some of my cards-playing patients forget my name.

Still, it is better to get your brain to work than to leave it idle. Although there is yet no report that brain exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, having some brain activities is good for preventing depression. Having a life outside the home, meeting people, talking and watching news about the world around you also improve your life quality. Another important medicine is love and understanding from family and friends. This wonderful medicine will help you age happily.

Meditation and Vipassana are also helpful in all aspect of brain function and enjoy less suffering of aging process as they will help you see  ‘Wisdom’.

Prof Nithi Mahanonda is consultant cardiologist and interventionist, Perfect Heart Institute.


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