Learning, Music & Preventing Alzheimer's

"Aging is optional”

According to Dr. Daniel Amen, “Aging is optional.” Horrifying diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, he argues, can be largely prevented through lifestyle choices such as the food we eat, exercise, and our hobbies. 

Amen’s own grandmother’s 92-year-old brain scan reveals a healthy brain typically found in a much, much younger person. And why was this the case? Because in addition to listening to his other medical advice, she loved needlework and crossword puzzles. Apparently, coordination activities and lifelong learning are critical to preventing an aging brain. “When you stop learning, your brain starts dying,” states Amen. Wow, how powerful is that? 

Learning Music = Healthy Brain

All of this got me to thinking about music. If coordination activities are crucial for continuing brain health, music must be like a superfood as it engages sight, hearing, touch, and all sorts of things in the brain that build new neurological pathways. So could it be that playing an instrument throughout one’s lifetime help ward off Alzheimer’s? Well, apparently it can. In another article I read by the same doctor, music and language are both recommended activities. Cool! Now we can tell prospective families that not only will children develop confidence, focus, and time-management throughout the course of learning an instrument, but will help ward off some of the most devastating diseases decades down the road. Interestingly, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s indicate a late-stage of the disease, as it would have been developing for years if not decades beforehand. 

Other Factors to Consider

In addition to coordination activities, Amen suggests: 

  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol & nicotine

  • Taking ginko (it increases blood flow), a high-quality Omega-3 supplement, and tumeric 

  • Getting adequate exercise 

  • Not letting your kids play football (trauma to the brain is very bad) 

  • Avoiding any heavy metals (these can even still be found in deoderants and lipsticks, YIKES)

  • Starting with gratitude and prioritizing spiritual well-being

  • Avoiding  GMOs and pesticides (EAT ORGANIC) 

  • Receiving adequate sleep 

Amen finally discusses how we can all MODEL a healthy brain lifestyle to those around us, including our partners, friends, parents and children. Perhaps we can also talk to our students about this topic when they are old enough to understand its significance? The choice is of course each individual’s to make, but I know I’ll be listening to all of this advice and attempting to model brain healthy behavior around everyone I love :) 

Watch Amen’s entire talk below!