Send your comments and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Ctr.
Boston Medical Center
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Cambridge Health Alliance
Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Ctr.
Children's Hospital Boston
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Joslin Diabetes Center
Mass. General Hospital
Mass. Health Law
New England Baptist Hospital
Short White Coat
Tufts-New England Medical Center
UMass Memorial Medical Center
University of Massachusetts
VA Medical Centers
A Healthy Blog
Running A Hospital
Nature Network Boston
SciBos - Corie Lok's blog
Nurse at small
Dr. Gwenn Is In
Healthy Children blog
Other Globe Blogs
Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Boston Globe Health and Science staff:
Karen Weintraub, Deputy Health and Science Editor, and Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor.
Short White Coat blogger Ishani Ganguli
Short White Coat blogger Jennifer Srygley
« MIT scientists devise new way to deliver gene therapy | Main | In case you missed Sunday's Globe: fighting for brain-injured soldiers, waiting for women veterans' clinic in Brockton, Edward Brandt »
Friday, September 7, 2007
Staying sharp at the AARP convention
By Elizabeth Cooney, Globe Correspondent
There were plenty of jokes about senior moments before a panel of neuroscientists began their discussion of how older people can stay sharp.
This was the AARP annual conference, after all, with oldies music piped through the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and ads for bladder control drugs plastered in the restrooms. Gail Sheehy was competing for the crowd's attention, the doctors noted, with her session in another meeting room on "Sex and the Seasoned Woman."
But the four panelists, three from Brigham and Women's Hospital and one from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, were as serious as the crowd about how to identify, prevent and deal with cognitive decline and dementia.
They explained how memories are retrieved and noted that new brain cells and connections can continue to be made, contrary to previous beliefs.
"It's possible to learn new tricks even though we are old dogs," said Dr. Dennis J. Selkoe, co-director of the Center for Neurologic Diseases at the Brigham.
Dr. Gary L. Gottlieb, president of the Brigham and a geriatric psychiatrist, warned that depression and anxiety can lead to problems with memory that may be confused with dementia.
"The great news is depression is treatable," he said. "There are drugs people can tolerate and psychotherapies people can use."
Dr. David A. Drachman, a professor of neurology at UMass, urged audience members to protect their brains by wearing seatbelts, eating a good diet, and keeping cholesterol and blood pressure under control.
"You are never going to be as young as you are today," he said, to more than a few chuckles.
Dr. Reisa Sperling, director of therapeutic trials in Alzheimer's disease at the Brigham, had a suggestion and a plea.
Learn ballroom dancing, she said, to combine mental and physical activity with social interaction.
And volunteer for clinical trials.
"I think a cure is in someone's test tube, if we can figure out which one," she said. "It takes people to come forward to be participants in trials to test them out."