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Demystify aging and maintaining the development of one's cognitive abilities

Conference by Geneviève Ling

"What I remembered, among other things, is that the brain has three different memories and that the latter has an unlimited capacity for acquiring new information, so it is good and necessary to keep it active through new learning at any age," said one of the many participants in this lecture by Geneviève Ling, who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Neuropsychology.

Ms. Ling, recognized for her years of experience in assessment, diagnosis and monitoring of various childhood and adult learning disabilities was the guest speaker in November and February at the Congregation House for the Sisters and Associates.   She is also a lecturer on memory and cognitive aging.

While currently completing a doctoral thesis on home treatment of people with Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia or mixed dementia, Ms. Ling presented a theory on aging and knowing how to maintain and develop cognitive abilities.

Continuing to learn at any age

Despite the complexity of the subject, the speaker was able to give a clear picture of an alarming situation, given the increase in the lifespan of people exceeding the age of 85. With the help of anecdotes and scenarios, Ms. Ling succeeded in making the various notions related to cognitive problems comprehensible.

"What generally stands out for me is that our brain is of paramount importance in our lives. We have to take care of it as much as possible, taking into account our genetics and our personal resources," stated one participant.

Another participant made this comment: "The theory on aging allowed me to understand, through diagrams and explanations, the complexity of the brain. This diagram shows the management of  the cognitive functions (language, memory, perception, planning). When we advance in age, we undergo normal consequences; a decrease in brain volume, a decrease in the blood flow, and a decrease in the hippocampus, all which lead to a decrease in memory and the ability to gather knowledge."

Another participant, reassured by the content of the speaker's remarks, commented, "With age, the brain can function more slowly, it is normal, it is not necessarily a sign of dementia, and you have to know how to follow your own pace, while continuing to learn new things."

Helpful hints to slow the deterioration of the brain

Geneviève Ling provided some important practical tips on how to prevent the brain from deteriorating. Here are a few:

  • Being diligent about exercising reduces the possibility of dementia by 38%.
  • Making some changes in our habits, for example: Change our lunch menu
  • Becoming socially involved in interpersonal gratifying relationships, family and friends
  • Retaining some information at least once a day
  • Paying close attention to some work
  • Monitoring our diet according to Canada's Food Guide
  • Look at our environment and our world with a positive outlook
  • Playing games (cards, dice, do-it-yourself projects, dance), etc.
  • Appreciating the people with whom we are living
  • Writing a book or writing down our memories
Judging by the comments and feedback received after the two conferences, the speaker had achieved her goal. The richness of the interaction and the content has been most inspiring
Another pertinent comment: "This meeting gave me several tools to decrease the weakening of my cognitive functions. As a caregiver, I have been able to gain a better understanding of the effects of dementia in people who have it or who are progressively ''out of touch with reality ."
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