Posted 5/5/21 (1 year and 55 days of lockdown…interesting)
Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. –2 Cor. 5:5
Howdy all! Happy Cinco de Mayo to my friends who celebrate it in a more meaningful way that to merely get cheaper tacos. 🙂 In honor of this holiday and to mix things up a bit, I am going to bump my normal Who, What, Where, Why, When-sday to next week and want to briefly discuss something that can help stave off dementia: learning a foreign (to you) language, especially if you are old enough to remember Jimmy Carter giving away the Panama Canal.
There are many tools in the toolkit of those trying to stave off dementia. First, and most important, is our standard line “If it is good for your heart, it is good for your brain”. If you remember nothing else, remember that. Run. Eat well. Fight stress. Keep the BP in check. Protect that ticker and it will help protect your brain, even it does so vicariously. Second, although somewhat iffy science-wise…the gut. Protect the gut biome, you have less inflammation and potentially less plaque/tangle problems. This isn’t fake news even a little bit. It is NOT CBD oil nor snake oil. The University of Kansas Medical Center and several other excellent schools are researching this gut-brain axis very closely and there are clinical trials here and in China to the same end. Here are some links: Link Link Link. Add to these things physically protecting your head from concussions and other injuries, avoid over-drinking and drug use, and visit your doctor on a regular basis, and you have a great foundation for fighting off the tipping point past which dementia takes over and cannot, as of not, be prevented.
What I want to mention today, though, on Cinco De Mayo, is learning another language as a preventative measure, especially when it gets harder: later in life. I suspect. for some of the same reasons, learning other complex and brand new things may also help in this arena (musical instruments, art, etc…). Here are several great links discussing this topic for further study: Link Link Link Link Link Link Here is my rudimentary explanation of how this works: When you learn a new to you language, your brain grows. White matter grows, the beloved, memory-king Hippocampus grows, and the rest thrives. Think of the brain a little like a old-fashioned phone switch panel like this:
There are problems with my simile because each port on a panel like these brave operators had in front of them really only could have one cord on them unless there was a “party line” where everyone heard everyone. When your brain needs a memory, it connects a cord from its end to the port with that memory. If they do not have a line for that, they, perhaps, grab a split cable with multiple ends and connect to a party line of ports that they feel is close and name that combination of ports as that thing going forward. However, when you have an excess of new information with no easy reference points (i.e. ports into which to plug), your brain makes new ports as options. In fact it makes many, many of them. Then each of these new ones can be added to existing party line ports to make new memories. This growth means the brain increased/demonstrated “plasticity”. Here are some helpful links regarding this term: Link Link Link Link and this video.
When we struggle with dementia, we struggle with our cables and with our ports. Perhaps the plaque/tangles deform these connections in my simile here…I don’t know…but we have fewer and fewer paths to a correct memory. The panel shrinks and the cords get shorter and cannot reach the ports. Things are badly out of whack. However, if indeed we had the benefit of more and more options, sometimes a workable port IS in reach when it wouldn’t be before. Think of the German word for spider, for example. Don’t know it? The word is “SPINNE” and it is pronounced just like it SPIN with an Uh at the end. Your brain, not needing much in the way of new ports, just grabs a cable and pokes it in the one that says says SPIN and another that says WEB….and…. VOILA, a web+spinner…uhh…errr…spinna. Easy peasy and not much required. However, the combination is new and your brain likes the new growth. However, think of the German word for Butterfly: Schmetterling. Your brain is likely clueless on that one. It may reach over and poke into the ling suffix as something vaguely familiar to an English suffix somehow…but it will need lots of ports and work to get there. Think of a compound word German creates (they do this often) Krank(en) (meaning sick) and Wagon meaning typically vehicle/car/wagon. Therefore, once your brain figures out that Krank means sick and Wagon (think VW) means car/vehicle, it can grab some split cables and hook to those ports. It is amazing how well this works although, to maintain the benefits of these ports/this plasticity, we either use it or we start losing it. Therefore, we gotta keep using our brain in these ways no matter how hard it gets. It is so much harder for me to learn new concepts at 49 than it was at 10 or 15 or even 25.
Does a new language prevent dementia? I doubt it. Can it stave it off even a little? I expect yes. AND, if it buys us a little time, woot woot!!!
So much more could be said and I want your take as well. 🙂 Thoughts?
Update: Nothing new. Mom was pooped yesterday and even a single smile was a hard thing to get. I get to see her tomorrow for another 15 minutes… We REALLY need to #EndALZ , and SCHNELL. 🙁
Runnin’ Til I’m Purple Update: If you missed it, we got a matching challenge of a total of $1000 raised by May 16th! We have raised $150 of this thousand (which will be doubled!!), so there is still time left to maximize this gift. 🙂 Woot woot! Here is the donation link. I am going to be a little more gentle on my body on my long run this weekend (perhaps 10-15 miles). I did run 9 miles this morning early, then Planet Fitness blessed me with a 34 degree shower. Sigh… Kalt. Sehr Kalt! I will keep fighting. I am NOT ready yet… Pray for me and my preparation. 🙂 Thank you 🙂
See you all Friday! 🙂
BTW…here is a very funny video that teases my German heritage’s odd-sounding words. A couple of the words I mentioned are even listed here. (BTW…I took 2 full years of German 20 years ago and still remember a little bit, but I cannot speak it any more and even reading is a challenge):