Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota.
Husband and I just returned from several days in Seattle, where we attended 18 hours of continuing education courses sponsored by the National Academy of Neuropsychology. I like to call it Brains ‘r Us. Neuropsychologists are extremely well-trained psychologists who specialize in research, evaluation, and treatment of brain disorders such as stroke, learning disabilities, dementia, traumatic brain injury, etc. They typically don’t treat mental illness. Husband and I are Clinical Psychologists. We treat, test, and evaluate people with mental illness, as well as some with learning disabilities, TBI, and other brain disorders, but not to the extent that a neuropsychologist would. Our nearest neuropsychologist is 100 miles away, and many people in our catchment areas are too poor, or frail, or have too complicated of lives to drive to Bismarck or Fargo for many hours of neuropsychological testing. I received some really good neuropsychology training when I was at my clinical internship at a VA hospital, and I feel comfortable testing and evaluating fairly straightforward cases of brain dysfunction. I always refer to the big dogs if I get out of my range of expertise.
I learned this week of a pretty nifty construct called Cognitive Reserve. What this means is that people with more education (High School or higher), who have lots of social engagement (friends, social connections, blog participation), who exercise (even if it is only stretching), and who have intellectual stimulation, are less likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease than those who don’t have or do the above. There is something about education, exercise, and social engagement that results in a thicker cerebral cortex, and also seems to inoculate a person from dementia. Even if such a person develops Alzheimer’s Disease, those with more Cognitive Reserve function longer independently than a person with less Cognitive Reserve, even when having more amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain.
Well, isn’t that good news?!
I think blog participation is a great way of maintaining and increasing our Cognitive Reserve. Writing blog posts gets you extra credit, I think.
Think of some creative ways you could increase or maintain your Cognitive Reserve .