“Brain Rules for Aging Well” Misses the Mark – Book Review

766124454

Dr. John Medina’s book, “Brain Rules for Aging Well: 10 Principles for Staying Vital, Happy, and Sharp” (2017), disappointed me. Perhaps I had high expectations as I was impressed with his first book “Brain Rules.” He has labeled himself the “grumpy neuroscientist” and his writing in this book shows. The hefty price of the hardcover ($36.99 CAD) made me believe that the information contained within must be good. As a specialist in aging, and someone who is very interested in the concept of “aging well,” I had to take a look.

I was encouraged by most of the reviews that this book was full of useful and helpful strategies to help one age well. As I dug in, I quickly realized that the book’s premise was inspired by the findings of an experiment from 1979 known as the “counterclockwise study” (Langer).  This was a very small study based on the experience of eight seventy-year-old men who were “stereotypically old.” For one week they were subjected to a time warp –– and lived as if it were 1959. After being immersed in the happy days of old, they came out seemingly younger –– happy with improved postures, hearing, and vision. Their hand grips strengthened and they moved with improved ease. As a woman in my fifties, I started to doubt how this book could adequately cover the topic of aging well – and my doubts were confirmed.

The book is divided into four sections, with the proposed “10 Brain Rules for Aging Well” which Medina starts and ends with as the guiding principles. Parts called Social Brain, Thinking Brain, Body and Brain, and Future Brain with a handy index at the end comprises the layout of the book. He refers to many scientific studies and other resources, and he directs us to “Extensive, notated citations at http://www.brainrules.net/references.” I found this style of referencing quite odd, and it was difficult to find what I was looking for. When I sit down to read a book, I don’t want to have to go to the internet to find the references. Also, the way the references are listed doesn’t make it easy to find what you are looking for.

I found myself bored with all the scientific jargon and his stories to help explain some of the complicated workings of the brain didn’t hit the mark. I ended up skim reading through quite a bit. Some of his aging well advice, such as engaging in friendly arguments and playing certain video games were quite surprising to me. I have yet to understand how a specialist in brain research would suggest arguing with people and playing video games as part of a good plan for overall brain health.

I liked the summaries at the end of each chapter. Medina’s advice about exercise, healthy diet, friendships and “say no to retirement” were well-taken. I found the discussion on the updated term “working memory” for the outdated term “short-term memory” interesting.  The personal stories he shares were endearing, especially the one about nostalgia, reminiscing and the “our song” syndrome he and his wife share.

The book was apparently well-proofed and edited (as Medina notes in his acknowledgments); however, I found two glaringly obvious errors. The first was on page 104, where Medina mistakenly tells us that reading from books 3.5 hours a DAY will help reduce our risk of dying by a certain age when compared to those who didn’t. In actuality, the research states it is a 30-minutes-a-day activity, which translates into 3.5 hours WEEKLY.

The second error, which I was astonished by (as an author and editor myself), was on page 164. Medina was talking about research on exercise done with people with limited mobility. He said that the participants were “assessed by a test called” and there was a blank space after that. The next paragraph started with a period. Perhaps that was the period that he deliberately omitted back in the introduction on page 7? I’d be pretty ticked if I were Medina, knowing this one slipped by all the reviewers.

I believe this was a good attempt by Medina to write a book on Aging Well; however, his dated references to works from 30-40 years ago (e.g., Hauri’s book No More Sleepless Nights, and the movie Cocoon) made me less confident in thinking he was using fresh and current research. This book was a good attempt at starting the conversation about brain health and aging well, but I think he has a lot more reading and researching to do on the subject. One last thought –– I wish he’d avoid using the term “elderly.” That’s a term we are getting away from in the aging well literature when discussing older adults. I believe mainstream media is also moving away from using that term.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Memory Rescue by Dr. Daniel Amen (2017) – Book Review

img01

 

I am a geriatric mental health clinician, and frequently I am asked: “How can I improve my memory skills?” The usual recommendations from doctors are, “Exercise and learn new things.” I have been on a quest to find some other tips and tools that people can use to help improve or maintain their brain and memory functions as they age. This need has led me to try to find the perfect book to recommend to those who are looking for more information. “Memory Rescue” has some useful information but it’s not the book I was looking for.

I purchased a copy (Amazon) of psychiatrist Dr. Amen’s book “Memory Rescue: Supercharge your brain, reverse memory loss, and remember what matters most” which has a second subtitle, “The official program of the Amen Clinics.” The Amen Clinics are found all over the USA, and the services and programs offered there are to help people with various mental health and brain health concerns (such as memory loss, ADD, and traumatic brain injury).

This book starts out with 20 testimonials and reviews which is very impressive until I realized they were all from men. The male-dominated view about memory problems and the Amen Clinic program was very strong. The only female presence I felt was from Dr. Amen’s wife, Tana, which was very sparse. There were also a handful of case studies that were about females. As a woman reader and professional, I wish there had been a more balanced perspective.

The overall takeaway of this book, for me, was that this was a big advertisement for his Memory Rescue Program that he offers through his Amen Clinics and the MyBrainFitLife.com website. There were case examples of how his clinics help people, and there were lots of “SPECT” (single photon emission computed tomography) scan photos to “prove” it. Even after looking at numerous SPECT images, I still wasn’t 100% sure what I was looking for. I felt these images were a bit overkill.

Here in Canada, we don’t have access to Amen Clinics, and SPECT scans are reserved for those exceptional cases (which I am still not sure what those cases are.) We tend to favour CT, MRI and PET scans.

Ultimately I was looking for concrete tips on “how to improve memory skills” and “how to improve memory problems.” Amen’s program is intended to enhance your mood and memory skills using the BRIGHT MINDS risk factor approach, with each letter standing for a component of the “ultimate memory formula.” Blood Flow, Retirement and Aging, Inflammation, Genetics, Head Trauma, Toxins, Mental Health, Immunity/Infection Issues, Neurohormone Deficiencies, Diabesity, and Sleep Issues. There was quite a lot of repetition throughout the book, with the main recommendations being: Exercise, Nutrition, Nutraceuticals (and supplements).

On pages 28-30, you can take the “Amen Clinics’ Early Warning Signs Questionnaire.” Your score will provide you with a risk of “significant memory issues,” from low to high. Amen states, if you are at moderate to high risk, it is important to get a thorough medical evaluation.

This book brought up some new terms and concerns. Those including my need for nutraceuticals (which Amen sells on his BrainMD website), getting tested for the APOE gene (related to Alzheimer’s disease), an integrative medicine doctor (but doesn’t say where I can find one). He was heavy on the recommendation of Gingko Biloba (a natural supplement that has limited research evidence to help prevent memory problems, see GEM study). He was anti-marijuana use and wasn’t that clear on what the recommendation was for alcohol use (was it 2-4 servings a week or only 2?).  He suggests coconut oil is good for our brains, but I have read that it is not good for our bodies. There is a lot of reference to the Memory Rescue Diet, but it is not discussed until chapter 16. There are a lot of references to the Bible, which surprised me. He also suggested that “praying to release your worries and to rejoice over the good things around you can help reduce your risk of mental health problems” (p. 337).

Ultimately, as I mentioned earlier, I was looking for specific tips and techniques to help people improve their memory skills. The most helpful part of the book in this regard is found in Chapter 17 “Sharpen Your Memory––Brain Workouts for a Richer Life.” He provides a lot of suggestions of what activities can help strengthen the different areas of the brain such as playing Scrabble, completing crossword puzzles, and learning to play a new musical instrument. He suggests engaging in “map reading” without a GPS device. He’s a big fan of table tennis and other coordination activities, such as dancing, yoga, and tai chi. He says we should travel to new and interesting places and develop relationships with smart people. Music, especially classical, can enhance memory and cognitive function. Surprisingly, I didn’t find the instruction to “pay attention” to what we are doing, which I believe is an essential tip for being able to remember things in the first place. He doesn’t speak to word-finding difficulties, either, which is one thing a lot of older folks are initially concerned about.

The book is well-referenced, and he claims to walk the talk. The index is sub-par, and it could have been enhanced to make finding things a lot easier to find. Some of the reviews online of Amen Clinics state it is a very costly program. There is no mention of costs, but there is mention that the process of improving cognition or mental health often takes months. It’s assumed the program costs thousands of dollars. The MyBrainFitLife.com online program also has a cost, a yearly fee of USD 99. There are some free Brain Assessments (which I completed) which can help one decide on the level of risk one is at. If someone already has memory impairment, a caregiver or loved one will need to read this book as it tends to have some jargon and technical language, and there is lots to read and learn about.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Amen Clinic Memory Rescue Program. For specific information on brain health and tips for improving memory skills, Chapter 17 is where you want to start. If you believe in God or a higher power, this will also confirm your faith in how prayer and scripture can support your mental health. The book is somewhat repetitive, however, it drives home the main message––that having a healthy body means better chances for a healthy brain.

I’ll leave you with this: Amen provides hope––“Yet new research suggests that a ‘memory rescue’ program, like the one presented in this book, can dramatically improve memory and can prevent and sometimes even reverse some forms of dementia. Given how most doctors approach this issue, however, you cannot count on traditional medicine to rescue your memory.” (p. 4).

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW (Specialist in Aging)

 

 

Cancer Up the Wazoo Book Launch — Photos and Video

Reading

Angela Gentile reading from Cancer Up the Wazoo

Portrait

Purple suit to match the ribbon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Thursday, September 27, 2018, my two latest books Cancer Up the Wazoo and How to Edit an Anthology were presented and launched at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was also a fundraiser for the “CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.” 60 people attended and Tache Pharmacy sponsored the beverages. There were also decorated sugar cookies (made with love by me, Sheila and Simone) and brownies (made by Cupp, my husband).

 

Hope

Cancer Up the Wazoo, How to Edit an Anthology, Hope symbol, and Me (Angela Gentile)

I also revealed my latest project — a symbol of HOPE. It includes the anal cancer ribbon in green and purple and a dragonfly. The logo was created with the talented help from Fusion Communications. The dragonfly is a creation of Chinese brush artist Virginia Lloyd-Davies. Her artwork is also found in the book, Cancer Up the Wazoo. I have plans to help share this beautiful logo with those as a symbol of strength and hope.

Although there are 25 people who contributed to the book, only 5 of us were able to be at the launch. These three short speeches were very touching.

Speakers

Three guest speakers. Left to right: Lynda Sie Greaves, Maureen Warren, Me (Angela Gentile) and Virginia Davis Wilson).

Fr Sam

Me and Father Sam, one of my esteemed guests!

The presentation was 26 minutes in total. I have put it on YouTube, in two parts.

Part 1:

Part 2:

 

Signing

People bought books and I signed them if they wanted me to!

cookies

 

Overall, the launch was a success and we raised $300 for the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation! In addition to that, $1 from the sale of each copy of Wazoo will be donated to the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation.

To purchase copies, you can find Cancer Up the Wazoo and How to Edit an Anthology on Amazon or at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

 

A special thank you to all who attended, donated and purchased books.

Warm regards,

Angela G. Gentile

www.AngelaGGentile.com

Press Release – Book Launch Fundraiser to Help People Coping with Cancer

_DSC6188 4 x 6

September 19, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For More Information contact Angela Gentile.

BOOK LAUNCH FUNDRAISER TO HELP PEOPLE COPING WITH CANCER

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA—Anal cancer survivor Angela Gentile is donating a portion of the proceeds from her Cancer Up the Wazoo book launch to help others cope with cancer. The book launch and reading will be at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Avenue, Winnipeg, Sept. 27, 7 p.m. The donation from the sales will go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. Additionally, a coin collection will be taken for CancerCare Manitoba Foundation. Sponsored by Tache Pharmacy.

Gentile was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2017, was treated with chemoradiation, and now is cancer-free. As she searched for information and statistics after getting the diagnosis, Gentile discovered resources were even more limited than an anal cancer diagnosis which afflicts approximately 25 Manitobans each year and one in 500 people annually.

As a result, Gentile decided she would create the resource she wished she could have found. “After my diagnosis, I had difficulty finding the resources I needed that would help me. I vowed that I would create a book that would be helpful, comprehensive and diverse to help others who might get the same diagnosis I did,” Gentile said. “The result is Cancer Up the Wazoo.”

Cancer Up the Wazoo is an anthology of writings from 25 people whose stories cover a wide range of topics about cancer. Contributors include teachers, professors, nurses, social workers, technicians, clinicians, principals, counsellors, personal support workers, among others. Some of the contributors, including Gentile, have personally dealt with anal cancer while other writers have been witnesses to what cancer can do to their loved ones or people they care about. There are personal stories, interviews, references to current research, photos, art, poetry, supplies lists, hope and inspiration, self-affirmations, a glossary, and an extensive index to help readers find what they need. Specific information includes symptoms of and diagnosis of anal cancer, how to reduce the risks of getting anal cancer, advice for newly diagnosed patients, pelvic radiation disease, HPV vaccine, complementary and alternative medicine, dealing with shame and stigma, coping techniques and general resources. Another book, How to Edit an Anthology, is an offshoot and is also being launched on the 27th.

If you are unable to make the book launch and are interested in getting a copy of the book, you can purchase it on Amazon. For information about Gentile and her other publications, visit her website at https://angelaggentile.com.

###

Cancer Up the Wazoo Quotes

Please feel free to share these photos and quotes! We are happy to share!

Angela and Alan self-affirmations with Michaels' photo

Self-Affirmations

 

Angela Rare cancers deserve attention

Rare Cancers Deserve Attention, Too

 

Angelas quote on sharons photo 2

Integrative Medicine and Cancer

 

Joana photo quote

Anal Cancer and Shame

 

Jodi quote

The Impact of Cancer

 

Joys funny quote

Funny Quote from Joy

 

 

Laura's photo and quote PRD

Pelvic Radiation Disease and Cancer

 

Maria photo quote

Anal_Cancer Support group on Facebook

 

Marshall quote with my pic

Anal Cancer, Shame and Stigma

 

Maureens quote on Asger's photo

Cancer and friendship

 

Michael sitting on mountain quote

Cancer and Resilience – Inspiration

 

Peggy photo and quote

Anal Cancer, Hemorrhoids and HPV

 

Sharie Vance depression quote

Cancer, Anger and Depression

 

Sharon Basic quote

Thankful Survivor of Cancer

 

Sheila's quote

Cancer, Friendship and Health

 

Sue inspiration quote

Cancer and Inspiring Others

 

Virginia quote Asger's photo

Cancer and Mother Bear

 

Calvin Nokes assbassador quote

Assbassador of Anal Cancer

 

alan quote standing

Cancer, Guides and Mentors

The Mighty Ant: An Anthology of Short Stories for Seniors

41KbQpD0l5L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

I am a contributor to a collection of short stories, called The Mighty Ant, edited by Jessica Bryan. This collection will delight anyone who enjoys reading or being read to.

My two stories include “You are Never Too Old” and “For the Love of Flowers.” These are my first attempts at short-story writing.

Here’s me reading my short story called “For the Love of Flowers.”

The book is in large print and is a fundraiser for the North Carolina Chatham County Council on Aging.

Get your own copy and enjoy reading and sharing with others! The stories are also great conversation starters!

Happy reading!

Angela G. Gentile

 

purple-swirl-separator-hi

_DSC6188 4 x 6

 

Angela G. Gentile, B.S.W., M.S.W., is a registered social worker and is employed as a Geriatric Mental Health Clinician in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is married to Agapito and has two adult children, Lorenzo and Simone. Angela enjoys writing, reading, and travelling and considers herself a realistic optimist. For more info: www.AngelaGGentile.com

It Takes a Village to Write a Book!

Cancer Up the Wazoo (not yet released!) is comprised of the efforts of 25 people (and that doesn’t include all those who were paid and unpaid who have reviewed, alpha read, beta read, proofed, offered design suggestions, etc.).

Thank you to all who are involved in the making of Cancer Up the Wazoo: Stories, Information, and Hope for Those Affected by Anal Cancer. Two writers chose to remain anonymous, and I respect that!

A COLLECTION

Please share with your social networks and help me get these fine folks the recognition they deserve!

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

 

purple-swirl-separator-hi

_DSC6188 4 x 6

 

Angela G. Gentile, B.S.W., M.S.W., is a registered social worker and is employed as a Geriatric Mental Health Clinician in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is married to Agapito and has two adult children, Lorenzo and Simone. Angela enjoys writing, reading, and travelling and considers herself a realistic optimist. For more info: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

Book Launch—September 27, 2018, 7:00 p.m.

1535395109

BOOK LAUNCH: Thursday, September 27, 2018, 7:00pm. McNally Robinson Booksellers—1120 Grant Ave., Winnipeg. Refreshments served!

Print

Generously sponsored by Tache Pharmacy

 

Inspirational. Empowering. Enlightening.

Anal cancer strikes approximately 1 in 500 people, and incidence is on the rise. More women than men are affected. There is little information on this rare, frightening, embarrassing, and often-stigmatized cancer. Although treatment can be quite traumatizing for some, the outcomes are usually positive. Being prepared can help you deal with this life-changing diagnosis.

Cancer Up the Wazoo includes chapters and excerpts written by those whose lives have been affected by anal cancer. Topics include:

  • Anal cancer basics
  • Help for the newly diagnosed
  • Pelvic radiation disease (PRD)
  • Mental health and coping
  • Cancer “blessings”
  • Sexual issues (that arise)
  • Shame and stigma
  • Family and friends’ experiences
  • Advocating for change
  • Helpful supplies list
  • Support and resource reference

… and much more!

This book is filled with tips and personal stories to help prepare and support you (and your loved ones). You will laugh, cry, and be amazed as you read stories of courage and resilience from people who “get it.” There are many resources and supports available to help you cope. You are not alone: Cancer Up the Wazoo will help you feel more confident, prepared, and hopeful as you face this daunting cancer diagnosis.

How to Edit an Anthology

 

Angela will also be launching her other new book, How to Edit an Anthology! Come to hear about both books! 

 

 

Other books by Angela:

3dcover (2)agentileebook091015v2

purple-swirl-separator-hi

_DSC6188 4 x 6

 

Angela G. Gentile, B.S.W., M.S.W., is a registered social worker and is employed as a Geriatric Mental Health Clinician in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is married to Agapito and has two adult children, Lorenzo and Simone. Angela enjoys writing, reading, and travelling and considers herself a realistic optimist. For more info: www.AngelaGGentile.com

Appropriate and/or Correct Words and Phrases (No offense!)

words by https://redzenradishphotography.com

Photo credit: Words by Kristina Krause of Redzenradish Photography

√ Use … × Instead of…

Mental Health:

√ Died by suicide

× Committed/Completed/Successful suicide

√ Suicidal ideation with a plan; suicide without a plan

× Active suicidal ideation; Passive suicidal ideation  

√ Alcohol use disorder/Benzodiazepine use disorder

× Alcohol dependence or use continuous

√ Person with a mental health disability; person who has/person diagnosed with depression/schizophrenia, etc.; Terminology varies throughout countries – “insane” and “insanity” are generally legal terms and reported as such in news programming

× Negative references to mental health and well-being such as: lunatic, mental patient, mental disease, neurotic, psychotic, crazy

Physical Abilities:

√ Hard of hearing; deaf; deafened or late-deafened; Deaf (uses sign language)

× Hearing-impaired; blanket term “deaf” used at the wrong time 

√ Person who uses a wheelchair

√ Wheelchair user

× Wheelchair-bound  

√ Non-disabled

× Normal

√ Person living with vision loss

√ Person who is blind

√ Person who has a vision impairment

× Blind; visually impaired  

√ Person with a disability

√ Persons with disabilities

√ People with disabilities

√ Individuals with disabilities

× Disabled, invalid, handicapped, physically challenged (challenges and handicaps are environmental conditions) 

√  Person born with a disability

× Birth defect, deformity/deformed, congenital defect

√ Person with a disability or a person with a/who has a motion disability;

√ Person with (e.g., a spinal cord injury)

× Crippled or lame

Medical Conditions:

√ Has (e.g., asthma, cancer)

× Suffers from (e.g., asthma, cancer)   

√ Person/people/individual with (a) dementia

√ Person/people/individual living with dementia

√ Person/people living well with dementia

√ A person with Alzheimer’s disease

× Dementia sufferer; demented; senile or senile dementia; burden; victim; plague; epidemic; living death (e.g., dementia is a living death)

♥ Re: “dementia patient” – okay to use when talking about people in a hospital or actually using a care service).

√  Person who has (a particular disease or condition). Ex: A person who has had a stroke.

× Suffers from; was stricken with; is confined to; or is afflicted by/with. These terms patronize, pity, victimize or insult.

Other Terms:

√ Older people; older person; older adult

× Elderly; old people; old person

 ♥ Seniors or senior citizens is an acceptable term for most.

√ Accessible parking

× Handicapped parking

√ Accessible bathrooms

× Handicapped bathrooms

√ Person with an intellectual disability or persons with learning disabilities

× Mentally retarded; retarded; mentally defective; mentally challenged

 √ Indigenous Peoples, First Nations Peoples, Inuit Peoples, Metis Peoples, Aboriginal Peoples. Note: Always go with what they are calling themselves. 

Eskimo, Indian, Native are less-used terms and can be taken as derogatory.

√ Black (as an adjective); African-American/African-Americans (as nouns) (both are acceptable, but not necessarily interchangeable.) In Canada, Black or Black Canadian.

× N-word 

SIMPLE RULE: It’s people first. The person comes first.

The disability or disease comes second.

REGARDING IMAGES: Use images that reflect the whole person, rather than a fading face or wrinkled hands. This is especially important when the article is about living a positive life or overcoming challenges.

Angela G. Gentile

purple-swirl-separator-hi

Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide,” “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival,” “How to Edit an Anthology: Write or Compile a Collection that Sells,” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

Search terms: politically correct, political correctness, terminology, writing, speaking, sensitive, appropriate, modern, neutral, acceptable