This morning, not that it was especially unique, while I was gently rousing from my slumber. I began thinking; a process I often do when awaking. I was cogitating on the possible connection between multiple sclerosis, ageing and dementia. Well, you do, don’t you.
“There is no connection at all between the three” you are saying. Not that I presume to know what you are saying. How can I possibly know what you are saying, or thinking, or, indeed, doing while you are at the other en of this blog post.
The other end being the “reading end” while I am currently at the “writing end”. Which, of course, I am not anymore because I have finished writing. Well, I must have finished because the post is now published.
Confused? It could be a sign of dementia. Or it could be Multiple Sclerosis; a disease of the brain. Perhaps, however, it might be simply a sign of ageing.
Surprisingly, all three conditions can give rise to cognitive difficulties; problem-solving and similar thought processes. They can also cause problems with memory retention; forgetfulness and face recognition.
Dementia and Ageing
It is common to associate dementia with ageing. But, is there a direct correlation between ageing and dementia? Does dementia occur only in the elderly?
It appears that, yes! Age is a significant factor when we ask “Who gets this age-related condition?” It is very rare for someone under the age of 65 to develop dementia.
Which leads us back to the topic of ageing. We all age. All living things age. Elephants, crocodiles, Oak trees, humans and daffodils.
OK. I have included the reference to the daffodils for the sake of levity. But, we cannot deny that elephants, crocodiles and oak trees are all long-lived lifeforms. And, humans can be too, if they look after themselves.
Ageing is a disease that, like multiple sclerosis, has no cure. However, it can be managed and mitigated against. The biggest contributing factor to ageing is lifestyle. Get that right and you can live to a ripe old age with a razor-sharp mind.
Multiple Sclerosis and Mitochondria
So, what is multiple sclerosis and what is mitochondria? And, what has one got to do with the other; if anything?
Well, a lot of my understanding, and I find it very convincing, has to do with the teachings of Dr Terry Wahls. Terry Wahls is a doctor, working in a brain trauma clinic. She, herself, has multiple sclerosis which is a neurologically, degenerative disease where the immune system attacks the otherwise healthy myelin of the nerves in the human body.
Myelin is the protective sheath surrounding the nerve fibres in the central nervous system (CNS). In her book The Wahls Protocol, Dr Wahls investigates the role of mitochondria in the normal birth and death of bodily cells.
Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive, chronic neurological condition. The immune system attacks the protective sheath of nerves, primarily in the brain. Brain fog can be the perceived outcome.
I would argue that brain fog is a form of dementia. You become forgetful, everyday tasks suddenly become challenging and you are less aware of events around you.
Ward off Dementia with brain exercise
The human brain is a most remarkable organ. It is both fragile and resilient. It is easily damaged by physical trauma or inappropriate use of certain drugs. These drugs may be prescribed pharmaceutical treatments for other conditions or they might be recreational drugs like tobacco or alcohol.
I am a born pessimist. I always think that I know better than my GP. This is seldom the case, and my frequent episodes of brain fog only serve to cloud the issue.
Brain fog makes thinking lucidly difficult. It also means you will lose many arguments because you forget why you objected to a specific situation.
BUT, you can improve your thinking.
Imagine how it would feel if you could sharpen your thought processes and improve your mental agility. If you could hold a meaningful conversation and argue a convincing point.
You know that you can tone your muscles by working out at the gym. The good news is that you can build your mental acuity by giving your brain a good workout.
Discovering the exercises for your Brain Workout
The key to improving your mental agility is to learn something new. It does not matter a great deal what you learn. It is the act of learning something new that will stretch your mind and force your brain to build new neural connections.
I am finding that learning a new language is doing my mind a lot of good. Spanish is my language of choice. I have been learning this new language for over a year, at the time of writing. The human brain is at its most receptive to new language before the age of ten. Being almost sixty, I have a slight problem.
My brain feels rejuvenated and alive from this learning activity. I may never be a fluent Spanish speaker but, that was never really the object of the exercise.
If you are physically able, a sport like tennis or badminton can improve both your physical and mental fitness. The hand-eye coordination involved in these racket sports requires a lot of brain power.
I have a friend with PPMS, Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and I was visiting him just yesterday. We were talking about a number of things, forthcoming holidays, the state of the World and brain exercise.
He has decided he would like to learn sign language. This is a great idea as it will expand his mind and improve his limited dexterity.
In short, your mental exercise will suit you. If it uses your mind in a new way it will improve your mental ability.
My history with Dementia
I do not have dementia, at least not yet. I have Multiple Sclerosis along with the associated brain fog.
The possible onset of dementia has clearly been nagging at my mind for a few years. I have an earlier post entitled MS is not brain ageing, but there are similarities.
Multiple Sclerosis is a mental illness, a term many people will dislike. But I like to call a spade a spade and if the symptoms fit, then so be it.