Tag Archive | cognitive impairment

The Neurological Legacy of 9/11 on First Responders: PTSD, Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia

9/11/01 Collapse of Tower 2 of the World Trade CenterWhile most reports on the long-term health effects on first responders to the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York City have focused on physical damage – increased rates of severe respiratory conditions and incidences of cancer – often leading to premature death, it has only been within the last month that the long-term neurological effects have been examined and documented. Continue reading

Hearing Loss Linked to Cognitive Decline and Development of Dementia

Hearing is a neurological process that when impaired can lead to brain atrophy, cognitive impairment, and dementiaA fairly recent longitudinal study of older people with hearing loss that was conducted by John Hopkins University discovered that, over a period of 10 years, people who entered the study with any form of hearing loss showed a much faster rate of brain atrophy – hearing is a neurological process that takes place in the left and right auditory cortices located in the frontotemporal region of the brain – than people who had entered the study with normal hearing. Continue reading

Daylight Savings Time and Its Effects on Health, Sleep, and Our Loved Ones with Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease

Daylight Savings Time Increases Health Risks Physically and NeurologicallyHere in the United States, most of the country ended Daylight Savings Time (DST) at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 5, 2016, which moved our clocks back an hour.

Both the beginning and end of DST are tough changes on even the healthiest among us. For someone like me who has had hardwired sleep challenges all my life, both the beginning and end of DST are particularly hard for me for about a week until my body and brain adjust to the change. Continue reading

The Neurological Legacy of 9/11 on First Responders: PTSD, Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia

9/11/01 Collapse of Tower 2 of the World Trade CenterWhile most reports on the long-term health effects on first responders to the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York City have focused on physical damage – increased rates of severe respiratory conditions and incidences of cancer – often leading to premature death, it has only been within the last month that the long-term neurological effects have been examined and documented. Continue reading

Book Review of “The Glass Cage” by Nicholas Carr

The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing UsThe Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us by Nicholas Carr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As with The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr has brought the role of technology in our lives into focus with another aspect that I doubt many of us really understand in its pervasiveness in our everyday lives and what it is costing us, not just in obvious ways, but in ways that are fundamental to being human and be uniquely skilled to productively and expertly interact in and with the world of opportunity and possibilities we’ve been given.

The subtitle of this book is “Automation and Us,” and how automation has infiltrated every aspect of our lives and what we’re losing in the process is Carr’s subject in this book.

Automation, of and by itself, is not bad. It is the things we’ve automated and our relationship to automation (serving it instead of letting it serve us) that turns what could be a good thing into something that is destined to destroy us – our unique human abilities, skills, and talents – unless we take control and do something different.

One of the points that Carr makes in this book is that we have offloaded critical thinking skills, technical acumen, analysis, and creativity to technology. By doing this, we gradually lose the ability to operate successfully manually (without the technology) and use judgement, intuition, experience, and knowledge to navigate our lives and our professions.

Carr looks at the impact of automatic in the airline industry (specifically looking at how autopilot has degraded the skills of pilots to successfully deal with emergencies and crises when flying), in business (stock market, accounting, business decisions, human resources, hiring, etc., which have all been relegated to software to handle, with no human factors involved, resulting in the global financials messes we now deal with and with a loss of talent because there’s no human contact or intervention to recognize the talent), in medicine (with the advent of electronic medical records in most medical facilities, software is now making the decisions that doctors used to make and because the software adds procedures and tests, the costs, which were supposed to go lower, have actually increased exponentially) and in manufacturing.

He also looks at us and how we’ve turned over our brains to automation. We depend on social media to decide who and what we like (or don’t) and who we’re friends with (and who we’re not – anyone who chooses to limit this exposure disappears and becomes invisible because they simply don’t exist outside the virtual world) and we have chosen willing to live in this virtual world more than we actually interact with the real word.

We’ve given control of our lives to our electronic devices: to do lists, calendars, phone numbers, etc. We let our software do things we should be doing ourselves: spell-checking, grammar-checking, basic math functions, etc. We have fallen for the myth that automation gives us more power, when instead it erodes our power and our humanness.

As we don’t use our brains, we lose our brains, leading to the brain itself atrophying and dying. This sadly, is a lifestyle factor that will lead to dementia, unless we make the choice to stop it and reverse it. We already are more impacted than we realize.

But it is not too late for us to put our lives and our brains back on manual and let automation serve us in ways that don’t jeopardize the health of this wonderful brain we’ve been blessed with.

People are much more extreme in their polarization of love and hate (nothing in between) in an automated world. It often seems that empathy, compassion, care, concern and love – all unique human abilities – is absent in the presence of a world that is automated. We lose our ability to relate to each other in any kind of real way and, as a result, we lose our humanness, and we become programmed to polarized points of view that we simply pick up and accept by what and who we choose to listen to, follow, and expouse in the landscape of technology (cable, streaming, internet, etc.).

We are losing our life blood – our hearts, our souls, and our minds, because we serve the god of automation that lacks emotional richness, deep understanding, and caring concern. I hope we reverse this trend, but I also am realistic enough to realize that we probably won’t and it will probably get much worse before it gets better.

View all my reviews

How War Damages and Destroys The Brain: Blast Wounds, PTSD, and Neurological Damage & Decline

Blast force wounds are common in modern warfare and leave long-term neurological and emotional damageWar is hell.General Sherman Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891), who led Union forces through the South during the United States Civil War, made not only this insightful observation on the nature of fighting wars, but also added “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it;…”

The ultimate purpose of war is malevolent: to maim, to injure, to destroy, and to kill to force one group of people to surrender to another group of people. Continue reading

Profiles in Dementia: Muhammad Ali (1942 – 2016)

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)Muhammad Ali is remembered as one of the greatest boxers of all time. His physical strength and abilities, his agile footwork in the ring, and his witty and intelligent – and sometimes boastful – running commentaries about himself and his opponents made Ali compelling and appealing to a much wider segment of the population than just those who liked to watch boxing.

But as Ishmael Reed so poignantly points out in his New York Times article about Ali, none of this came without a cost. A very high cost. An eventually fatal cost. Continue reading

Daylight Savings Time and Its Effects on Health, Sleep, and Our Loved Ones with Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease

Daylight Savings Time Increases Health Risks Physically and NeurologicallyHere in the United States, most of the country started Daylight Savings Time (DST) at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, 2016, which moved our clocks forward an hour.

Both the beginning and end of DST are tough changes on even the healthiest among us. For someone like me who has had hardwired sleep challenges all my life, the beginning of DST is particularly hard for me for about a week until my body and brain adjust to the change. Continue reading

Super Bowl 50, Football, and the Everpresent Looming Specter of Dementia

Football carries a huge risk of neurological damage and the development of dementiaToday, February 7, 2016, the 50th Super Bowl game in NFL (National Football League) history will be played by the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Therefore, it is appropriate to discuss the other dark and dangerous side of this football game – and all the ones played before and all the ones that will be played after – before it is played.

Super Bowl games have become extravagant and lavish productions in the last ten years or so, intended to bring into the audience people who normally either don’t have interest in the game or don’t normally watch football. Super Bowl games also represent an obscenely huge financial windfall for the NFL and for advertisers with enough money to pay for the coveted and outrageously expensive advertising spots during the game. Continue reading

Profiles in Dementia: Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004)

Ronald Reagan Younger PortraitFor reasons that I cannot logically remotely fathom, except that perhaps we humans are highly susceptible to creating sanitized and palatable versions of our recollections of “the good old days,” which in fact were never as good as we remember them to be and may have been downright horrible, United States President Ronald Reagan is continually held up as a hero and a paragon of virtue, wisdom, and good governing.

The reality then and now could not be further from the truth in any of these categories.

Even before Ronald Reagan was president, his mental status was a source of concern. He often made contradictory statements, had frequent difficulty remembering names and people, and regularly seemed to be prone to absent-mindedness.

I was very young when President Reagan came into office, but I have clear recollections of how bad the economy was during his tenure (President Reagan was the “trickle down economics” president, promoting the pie-in-the-sky idea that if the United States gave financial preferences to the very wealthy, then they would in turn create jobs and juice up the economy down through the poorest people in the nation) and how much wrong-doing occurred during his presidency.

Don Henley’s “End of the Innocence,” depicting pervasive corruption, dishonesty, greed, and despicable behavior that touches every part of life and written during President Reagan’s presidency has become, in my mind, the most honest and enduring description of the United States, from its politicians to its businesses to its people, has a couple of verses that deeply resonate with me every time I think of President Reagan’s years in office:

“O’ beautiful, for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening
They’re beating plowshares into swords
For this tired old man that we elected king

Armchair warriors often fail
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers clean up all details
Since daddy had to lie”

Henley’s song refers to the Iran-Contra affair, which, in more detail than ever before, exposed the truly despicable and seedy underbelly of how the American government, military, and intelligence services have always manipulated, by whatever means were deemed necessary (the end justifies the means), world geopolitics to attempt to give the United States the upper hand in outcomes.

It is very likely that the real principles – Colonel Oliver North threw himself on his symbolic sword as the fall guy when it came to light – in this scandal took advantage of  President Reagan’s already-apparent cognitive impairment.

Evidence that President Reagan was already into his progressive slide into dementia includes his often-confused testimony during the Iran-Contra hearings and the unprecedented number of times, with obvious confusion on his face, he said “I don’t recall.”

President Reagan had already begun his descent into dementia when he took office in his first term as the president of the United StatesWhile this statement is a standard in legal defenses, what made President Reagan’s more than a legal maneuver was that it was clear that he really didn’t recall much at all.

This year, a study was done by researchers at the University of Arizona on President Reagan’s speech patterns during his eight years (1981 – 1989) as president of the United States.

What the researchers found were subtle changes during those eight years that revealed the tell-tale signs of the change-in- communication step of the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.

These included searching for words, substituting generic terms like “thing” for specifics President Reagan could not remember, and a decreasing range of vocabulary as his time in office progressed.

Although President Reagan’s dementia was not publicly announced until 1994 – a move I believe was calculated to give enough time after his presidency to remove suspicion that President Reagan had dementia while in office – it has since become clear that his dementia gave the people around him the leeway to set in motion the kind of governing (and it does nobody except people and institutions with a lot of money and a lot of blackmail-type secrets any favors, while getting sleazier and sleazier by the minute) we live with and take for granted as “normal” today.

President Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004.