For two weeks in a row now, Jane Brody’s Personal Health column in the Science Times section of the New York Times has focused on aging-related memory loss. In the first, “Cracking the Code to the Memory Vault,” she talks about how it haunts her and her husband, who is older than she is, but who seems less haunted by ghost-names, faces, and facts that appear and disappear at will. In the second, “Mental Reserves Keep Brain Agile,” she looks at how to develop cognitive reserve and the importance of physical exercise and social networks (on and off line).
Brody’s columns echo the panic that fuels the narrative of Catherine Jakobson Ramin’s Carved in Sand, a book that tells the story of one woman’s journey to find out what is wrong with her. Along the way she undergoes brain scans, brain healthy diets, computer games to build her cognitive reserve, and her ultimate fear–someone with early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. See my review of the book in Aging Today.
Both Brody and Ramin give us careful accounts of the latest research on memory loss, and inspire us to push for new ground…to make age-related memory loss seem NORMAL. Both invoke the specter of dementia…and I think both could go further to help us soften attitudes toward people with dementia.