Monday, September 6, 2010

10 Tricks for Improving Your Memory

By Sarah Jio Posted August 23, 2010 from

What’s the name of your daughter’s teacher, and where did you put your keys again? If you’ve ever wished you could do some simple things to sharpen your memory skills, you can. We’ve talked to the experts and compiled the latest thinking on improving the muscles in your brain associated with memory.

1. Talk with your hands.
It may sound strange, but waving your hands and gesturing while trying to learn a concept may help your brain remember something important, says Jeff Brown, PsyD, ABPP, coauthor of The Winner’s Brain. "Gesturing in a meaningful way while you are learning may help you when recalling the concept,” he says. “The idea is that you are storing at least two different types of information about something you'll need to recall later. A good example of this is when kids speak math problems aloud, but also 'work them' in the air.” Tactics to try: When you’ve just learned someone’s name, “write” it down on the palm of your hand with your finger. The act of tracing the letters on your palm (discreetly, of course) can help your brain remember it, says Dr. Brown. Or, “Air-write on an imaginary map of your grocery store or mall as you name aloud the items or stores you need to remember when shopping.”

2. Take a chill pill.
Learning to calm down and not carry as much stress can help your brain in significant ways, says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, PT, a psychologist and physical therapist in Wexford, Pennsylvania, and the author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. “The best tip to improve your memory is: Reduce your stress,” says Dr. Lombardo. “Research shows that when people experience chronic stress, their hippocampus—the part of your brain that is responsible for some memories—literally shrinks in size.” In fact, a 2007 study in the journal Neurology by researchers at Rush University Medical School found that people who are easily distressed and had more negative emotions were more likely to develop memory problems than more easygoing people. How to reduce your stress? Consider delegating more tasks at work, clearing your social calendar for the weekend (there’s nothing wrong with having nothing on the calendar!) and purging negative relationships from your life.

3. Get plenty of zzz’s.
You’ve heard the concept of “sleeping on it” when you’re faced with a problem or difficult decision, right? Well, getting a good night’s sleep can help you improve your memory, too. "Sleep is critical for memory consolidation,” says Dr. Brown. “Getting at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep following exposure to new information can help in the recall of that information.” But there’s an important side note: “The trick is going directly to bed without inserting any new information or activity between what you want to recall and going to sleep—no reading, no TV, no sex, no music."

4. Eat more fruits and veggies.
Eating your spinach—and carrots and peas—is not only good for your body, it’s good for your memory, too. A recent Harvard study found that people who ate more vegetables had a slower decline of brain function as they aged. “Other studies, such as one published in Pharmacology, have shown that essential brain-boosting nutrients found in certain produce, such as quercetin and anthocyanin, may reverse memory loss,” says Tosca Reno, a health and fitness expert and author of the bestselling book The Eat-Clean Diet. You can find these compounds in cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage, as well as in leafy greens, including kale, spinach and Swiss chard. Also load up on brightly colored produce such as berries, red apples, eggplant and grapes—their bright hue is an indication of their brain-boosting antioxidants.

5. Join a book club.
Not only is reading great for your brain, but discussing what you’ve read can improve your memory by leaps and bounds, says Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD. In fact, a book club with your closest girlfriends may help strengthen your brain’s frontal lobe function. “The frontal lobe is the last region of the brain to develop, but the first to decline with age,” explains Dr. Chapman. “To strengthen function of the frontal lobe, engage in deeper-level thinking activities such as interpreting what you read in a book, discussing the ‘larger messages’ in the book and pushing to see how many meanings you can derive from it.”

6. Go to yoga class.
What can a downward-facing-dog pose do for your memory? A lot, says Gina Norman, a yoga teacher in New York City. “A new study out of the University of North Carolina shows that brief meditative exercise helps cognition and skills essential to critical thinking,” she says. But if you’re not into yoga, exercise of any kind works to boost your brain, says Dr. Lombardo. “Research shows that exercise increases the blood flow to all areas of your body, including the brain and specifically areas involved in memory,” she says. “One study found that mice who exercised grew new brain cells in the dentate gyrus, a part of the hippocampus which can be affected by declines in memory as we get older.” Short on time? “Try running up a flight of stairs, jogging to a bathroom that is farther away from you, doing 50 jumping jacks, putting on a great song and dancing around, or grabbing your child’s hand and jumping on the bed together.”

7. Sniff some rosemary.
Parsley and sage are great, as is thyme, but when it comes to improving memory, rosemary is king. In a recent study, UK researchers looked at scents and how they boosted or detracted from mental performance. They found that office workers whose cubicles were infused with the scent of rosemary had better long-term memory than those in unscented cubes. “There are other essential oils that can help with memory, but rosemary is by far the best and most economical,” says Cher Core, an aromatherapist in Boston. “Diffuse rosemary essential oil in the air, wear it in a perfume, use it in mists and more. It is a good choice for those studying and folks who need help with memory, focus and concentration.”

8. Pay attention.
Duh, right? It may sound obvious, but according to experts, when most people think they’re having memory problems, it’s really because they were distracted or didn’t record the information in their brain properly to begin with, says Linda Edelstein, PhD, adjunct faculty at Northwestern University and the author of The Art of Midlife. “When people cannot retrieve information it is often because they haven't taken it in in the first place,” she says. “You cannot recall information that you did not store.” The number-one trick to paying closer attention? Stop multitasking and be fully present. That means setting down the BlackBerry while lunching with your friend, turning off the TV when you’re trying to read something and not letting your eyes—or mind—wander when chatting with someone at a party. You’ll be more likely to remember the person’s name.

9. Learn a new song.
Have you ever found yourself singing along to a song you love that debuted 10 years ago, and yet you still don’t know the lyrics? Learning the words could be fun, but it could also be good for your memory in general. By memorizing a song, “you will be working out at least two different kinds of memory, auditory and verbal, which is probably something you don't do very often,” says Cynthia Green, PhD, an expert on brain health and memory. “The research suggests that constantly challenging our brains with intellectual pursuits may boost our ‘cognitive reserve’ and can have the associated benefit of reducing our dementia risk over the long-term.”

10. Go ahead and doodle.
When’s the last time you grabbed a pencil and paper and let your mind go—drawing hearts and rainbows, or whatever scene or object popped into your head? Surprisingly, says Dr. Green, a free-flowing pen could be the key to strengthening your brain’s memory centers. “Doodling has been found in studies to boost concentration, which is an essential first step to learning and memory,” says Dr. Green. “After all, if you can't focus on information, you don't acquire it effectively, and you can never remember something you don't learn in the first place!”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


THE SILENT MARCH – Our Concern for Suffering Fellow Senior Citizens

By Harchandan Singh, Secretary General CCCGPA & RSCWS

It is rare that the people jointly raise a voice for a cause that does not directly affect to them. It is even more rare that the “Haves” jointly but selflessly raise their voice for the “Have Nots”. It is rather rare of the rarest to see the sexagenarians, septuagenarians, octogenarians and nonagenarians all march together in hundreds - on issues of National importance.

It was exactly all like that what happened on that historic day of 16th August, 2010 – when over 500 Senior Citizens belonging to nearly 30 different organisations of the tri-city of Chandigarh, Panchkula & Mohali marched together through the main city centre in Sector 17 – carrying Banners and chest patches bearing slogans in support of their demands with a message to the Nation and younger generation to “RESPECT AGE” & “CARE FOR THE ELDERS”.

The march was a part of the Senior Citizens National Protest Day. It was followed by a delegation meeting the UT Administrator & Governor Punjab Shri Shiv Raj Patil and presenting to him as well to the Deputy Commissioner Chandigarh - a Memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister of India – on the major issues relating to the Senior Citizens.

who all participated

The Silent March was led by some seniors in their 80s & 90s on the wheel chairs & crutches followed by the Banner bearing members of Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association (CSCA) and Members of various Chapters of CSCA, Coordination Committees of Central Government Pensioners Associations (CCCGPA), P & T Pensioners Welfare Association, Railway Senior Citizens Welfare Society (RSCWS), Association of Retired Officers of Indian Audit & Account Deptt., Central Government Pensioners Association, Association of Retired Officers of Labour Bureau, ESIC Retired Officers Association, SBI Pensioners Association, Federation of Senior Citizens (FEDSEN) – North and some other groups of Human Right Association and Women & Youth Organisations.


For several decades, Governments at the Centre and in the states have been neglecting the problems of senior citizens. Out of 10 crores of older persons, 66% go hungry every day; 90% have no social or health security; 37% are lonely and neglected.

National Policy on Older Persons – announced in 1999 – has not been fully implemented by a single state. The Policy visualizes that the state will extend support for financial security, healthcare, shelter, welfare and other needs of older persons, provide protection against abuse and exploitation. The policy aims at well - being of older persons, so that they will not live unprotected, ignored or marginalized. Its objective is to help older persons to live their last phase of their life with purpose, dignity and peace. But it has yet to be implemented anywhere.

Only 3 states out of 35 have effectively implemented the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act – though three years have passed. Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme had been implemented by only a few States. There is no comprehensive medical or health care for old people after 60 years of age.

Several sincere and serious attempts to get Governments involved and to listen to problems and demands failed. It was therefore decided to observe a Protest Day, on an all India basis, on August 16 to press for the following demands:

Health Insurance for all Senior Citizens with modest premium and without restrictions of “entry and exit age” and “pre-existing health conditions”, early implementation of the “Maintenance & Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act” in all States and Union Territories, implementation the existing NPOP (National Policy for Older Persons) with adequate budgetary support, Uniform age of 60 years for Exemption under Income Tax Act and Old Age Pension for all Senior Citizens and Additional Pension to Pensioners / Family Pensioners who are 65 years & above for meeting health related requirements – as done in case of those of 80 years and above.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Coimbatore Senior Citizens Helpline found very useful

The Hindu Coimbatore 4th August 20

Senior citizens' helpline evokes good response

The senior citizens' helpline the West Zone police introduced recently
has found a good response. A release from the P. Sivanandi, Inspector
General of Police, West Zone, said 52 persons had lodged complaints
since the police launched the service on July 27. And, of those the
police had attended to 45.

The complainants were from the eight districts in the Zone and sought
action against son or daughter on charges of neglect. The release said
the police at the helpline, after noting down the complaint, forwarded
the same to the police station concerned for further action. The local
police, after verifying the charges, spoke to those who had been named
in the complaints to arrive at a solution. In most instances the
police did not register cases but received a written commitment from
those named in complaints. Only once did the police register a case
and that was when a father had complained about his son's rude
behaviour in inebriated condition. The son, a 42-year-old, had been
remanded in custody.

The release said the remaining seven cases were under investigation.
The helpline is available on 99440-95555.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Arthritis Advice

The word "arthritis" makes many people think of painful, stiff joints. But, there are many kinds of arthritis, each with different symptoms and treatments. Most types of arthritis are chronic. That means they can go on for a long period of time.

Arthritis can attack joints in almost any part of the body. Some types of arthritis cause changes you can see and feel—swelling, warmth, and redness in your joints. In some kinds of arthritis, the pain and swelling last only a short time, but are very uncomfortable. Other types of arthritis might be less painful, but still slowly cause damage to your joints.

Common Kinds of Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the most common diseases in the United States. Older people most often have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in older people. OA starts when tissue, called cartilage, that pads bones in a joint begins to wear away. When the cartilage has worn away, your bones rub against each other. OA most often happens in your hands, neck, lower back, or the large weight-bearing joints of your body, such as knees and hips.
OA symptoms range from stiffness and mild pain that comes and goes to pain that doesn’t stop, even when you are resting or sleeping. Sometimes OA causes your joints to feel stiff after you haven’t moved them for awhile, like after riding in the car. The stiffness goes away when you move the joint. Over time, OA can make it hard to move your joints. It can cause a disability if your back, knees, or hips are affected.

Why do you get OA? Growing older is what most often puts you at risk for OA, possibly because your joints and the cartilage around them become less able to recover from stress and damage. Also, OA in the hands may run in families. Or, OA in the knees can be linked with being overweight. Injuries or overuse may cause OA in joints such as knees, hips, or hands.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, a type of illness that makes your body attack itself. RA causes pain, swelling, and stiffness that lasts for hours. RA can happen in many different joints at the same time. People with RA often feel tired or run a fever. RA is more common in women than men.

RA can damage almost any joint. It often happens in the same joint on both sides of your body. RA can also cause problems with your heart, muscles, blood vessels, nervous system, and eyes.

Gout is one of the most painful kinds of arthritis. It most often happens in the big toe, but other joints can also be affected. Swelling may cause the skin to pull tightly around the joint and make the area red or purple and very tender.

Eating foods rich in purines like liver, dried beans, peas, anchovies, or gravy can lead to a gout attack. Using alcohol, being overweight, and taking certain medications may make gout worse. In older people, some blood pressure medicines can also increase the chance of a gout attack. To decide if you have gout, your doctor might do blood tests and x-rays.

Warning Signs

You might have some type of arthritis if you have:

  • Ongoing joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Tenderness or pain when touching a joint
  • Problems using or moving a joint normally
  • Warmth and redness in a joint

If any one of these symptoms lasts more than 2 weeks, see your regular doctor or one who specializes in treating arthritis, called a rheumatologist. If you have a fever, feel physically ill, suddenly have a swollen joint, or have problems using your joint, see your doctor right away.

Treating Arthritis

Getting enough rest, doing the right exercise, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and learning the right way to use and protect your joints are keys to living with any kind of arthritis. The right shoes and a cane can help with pain in the feet, knees, and hips when walking. There are also gadgets to help you open jars and bottles or to turn the doorknobs in your house.

Some medicines can help with pain and swelling. Acetaminophen might ease arthritis pain. Some people find NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketoprofen, helpful. Some NSAIDs are sold without a prescription, while others must be prescribed by a doctor. Be very careful about possible side effects of some NSAIDs, whether sold with or without a prescription. Read the warnings on the package or insert that comes with the drug. Talk to your doctor about if and how you should use acetaminophen or NSAIDs for your arthritis pain. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more information about these drugs.

Osteoarthritis (OA). Medicines can help you control the pain. Rest and exercise may make it easier to move your joints. Keeping your weight down is a good idea. If pain from OA is very bad, there are shots your doctor can give you.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Treatment can help the pain and swelling. This might slow down or stop joint damage. You may feel better and find it easier to move around. Your doctor might also suggest anti-rheumatic drugs called DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs). These can slow damage from the disease. Other medicines known as corticosteroids (like prednisone) can ease swelling. Another kind of drug, called a biologic response modifier, blocks the damage done by the immune system. These may help people with mild-to-moderate RA when other treatments have not worked.

Gout. The most common treatment for an acute attack of gout is NSAIDs or glucocorticoids like prednisone. They can bring down the swelling, so you may start to feel better within a few hours after treatment. The pain usually goes away within a few days. Glucocorticoids are strong medicines. They should only be taken with a doctor’s prescription. If you have had an attack of gout, talk to your doctor to learn why you had the attack and how to prevent future attacks. If you have had several attacks, your doctor might prescribe medicines to prevent future ones.

Exercise Can Help

Along with taking the right medicine and properly resting your joints, exercise might help with arthritis symptoms. Daily exercise, such as walking or swimming, helps keep joints moving, lessens pain, and makes muscles around the joints stronger.

Three types of exercise are best if you have arthritis:

  • Range-of-motion exercises, like dancing, might relieve stiffness, keep you flexible, and help you keep moving your joints.
  • Strengthening exercises, such as weight training, will keep or add to muscle strength. Strong muscles support and protect your joints.
  • Aerobic or endurance exercises, like bicycle riding, make your heart and arteries healthier, help prevent weight gain, and also may lessen swelling in some joints.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has a free booklet on how to start and stick with a safe exercise program. See the last panel of this AgePage for more information.

Other Things To Do

Along with exercise and weight control, there are other ways to ease the pain around joints. You might find comfort by using a heating pad or a cold pack, soaking in a warm bath, or swimming in a heated pool.

Your doctor may suggest surgery when damage to your joints becomes disabling or when other treatments do not help with pain. Surgeons can repair or replace some joints with artificial (man-made) ones.

Other Remedies

Recent studies suggest that acupuncture may ease OA pain for some people. Research also shows that two dietary supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin, may help lessen moderate to severe OA pain, but they seem to have no effect on changes to cartilage in the knee. Scientists continue to study these kinds of alternative treatments. Always check with your doctor before trying any new treatment for arthritis.

Many people with arthritis try remedies that have not been tested or proven helpful. Some of these, such as snake venom, are harmful. Others, such as copper bracelets, are harmless, but also unproven.

How can you tell that a remedy may be unproven?

  • The remedy claims that a treatment, like a lotion or cream, works for all types of arthritis and other diseases.
  • Scientific support comes from only one research study.
  • The label has no directions for use or warning about side effects.
  • The person recommending the treatment profits directly from your purchase of the medicine.
  • People who are now completely well are presented to you as having the same problems you have (this is called anecdotal evidence).

Talk To Your Doctor

Pain and arthritis do not have to be part of growing older. You can work with your doctor to safely lessen the pain and stiffness and to prevent more serious damage to your joints.

Reference: National Institute on Aging.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 –Tardy Status of Implementation in States

The Act was passed towards the end of 2007. The Central Government recommended that it be adopted and implemented by every state and Union teritory. Out of 35 States / UTs, as Himachal Pradesh has its own act (better than the Central Act), HP is not taken into account. It is not applicable to J&K. Out of the rest of 33 States / UTs four states have not bothered even notify it as acceptable for action. These are: Bihar,Madhya Pradesh, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh. After notification in the State Gazette, there are four important steps to be taken. These are: a) Framing Rules under the act b) Notifying / Appointing Maintenance Officers c)Notifying / Appointing Maintenance Tribunal and d) Setting up Appelatte Tribunal. Without these crucial steps in place the act is toothless in any state.
Let us look at the Table taken from MOSJE Annual Report for 2009-10. There are some funny things about this table. Four States that are totally blind to Center's plea about this act have not been included. While the data about status as of Feb 2010 is given for 29 states, the Serial Number shows 30 as the numbering is faulty. And the data does not depict true picture.
While the Table says that thirteen states have fully complied with the requirements, we read news items as late as June 2010 that Gujarat and Tamilnadu are yet to appoint Maintenance officers, appellate tribunal etc. Ground reality is different. 15 out of 33 States have not even notified rules – it is as good as doing nothing about the act. It is only around June 2010, on account of Elder Abuse Awareness Day and media pressure, that some states sporadically try to do something. Pressure from Senior Citizens Associations and Sttate and National level federations count nothing with the rulers. One example is Maharashtra where AISCCON, FESCOM and local NGOs like Silver Innings, Dignity & Harmony have been shouting from roof tops – the government is silent as rock.
In Andhra Pradesh draft rules have remained in file, never notified, despite consistent pressure and follow up by FAPSCO and APSCCON. One redeeming factor about AP is that despite absence of rules , the Collector of West Godhavari District has treated the Act as self contained wholesome act ( with rules) and has gone ahead listening to and passing orders under this act – helping senior citizens all the way. As many as 15 cases have been settled which only goes to bust the myth the senior citizens won't go to court against their own children. Hundreds are waiting for leagal avenues to redress their sufferings. Similarly, In Tamilnadu, the police, though they can not directly intefere in cases of Elder abuse under this act, have opted to be sympathetic to senior citizens in tackling offenders out of the way. Not all states are lucky.
Therefore it is impretive that all states and UTs take necessary steps imediately to implement theAct in right spirit, not just on paper. This requires pressure from center, that is MOSJE should do its part. As they are not doing, Senior citizens are showing their dissatisfaction by observing Senior Citizens National Protest Day on 16th August 2010. Joins us in full strength for your own benefit.

Posted By Dr P Vyasamoorthy, 30 Gruhalakshmi Colony Secunderabad 500015 Ph 040-27846631 / 9490804278. My blog: