RX For Readers: Save my memory!

Here are some ways to help preserve your mind’s functionality.

Brain with Alheimer's 521 (photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
Brain with Alheimer's 521
(photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
My 74-year-old mother has begun to lose her memory and show signs of Alzheimer’s. I, a 45-year-old man, worry about whether that will be my fate, too, when I get older. Is there anything I can do at my age to preserve my memory?
T.R., Rehovot Judy Siegel-Itzkovich replies: Melabev, the voluntary organization that assists Alzheimer’s patients and their families, presents this advice: There are 10 ways to help preserve ones memory: It’s important to do any kind of sports activity, from walking to dancing and swimming, as well as intellectual exercise such as crossword puzzles or chess.
Make sure you eat nutritious meals that include green leafy vegetables, berries and foods with vitamin B. Consume healthful fats such as olive oil and omega 3 (oily fish or in capsule form). Visit your doctor and do not ignore depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels and other chronic conditions.
It’s recommended that you use various techniques of association and simulation when you try to remember something, creating a picture of it in your brain. When you meet a new person, you should repeat his name aloud several times during your conversation.
Divide a lot of information into small units that are easier to recall. For example, if there’s a long phone number you have to remember, such as 1700704533, divide it up into 1-700-70-4533.
One can use a variety of devices, such as a timer, to remember to carry out activities such as turning off the stove, going to the store or doing a chore.
Finally, it’s best to activate all the senses when you do various things, so it’s easier to concentrate and remember what has to be done.
I am a 65-year-old woman. I have been told that only a hysterectomy would help me for a prolapsed uterus. It is not life threatening, so I can decide whether or not to have it done. I was told that they would use the “Manchester procedure.” I was informed that the Da Vinci robot is very new in Israel, expensive and that not many hospitals use them, hence the Manchester.
I would like to know: If I choose not to have it done, what are the consequences for the future? Why does the medical community insist on doing a hysterectomy for a prolapse if the uterus is healthy? Which is the best procedure – Manchester or the Da Vinci robot? Are there any hospitals that do this procedure here, and if so, where can I get a second opinion? When I tried to put these questions to the urogynecologist, I did not get any answers. E.N., Givat Shmuel
Prof. Amnon Brzezinski, director of the Women’s Health Center in the department of obstetrics and gynecology, Hebrew University- Hadassah Medical School and Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem, replies: Your problem is very common. Prolapse (descent) of the organs in the pelvis is a disturbing symptom but is not dangerous, and the need for surgical treatment is decided mostly according to how much the woman’s quality of life is disturbed by the condition.
In recent years, there has been much advancement in the ability to treat the problem surgically and with high success rates.
Every major hospital in Israel – Hadassah, Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Rambam Medical Center in Haifa and more – has a specialist clinic for urogynecology that deals with these problems. Usually, removing the uterus provides the best repair of prolapse, so we recommend that rather than surgery using the Manchester Technique, which allows for preserving the womb. The use of the Da Vinci robot is totally unnecessary. Good luck.
At the age of 38, I have suddenly found the Jewish holidays very hard on the stomach (especially in terms of heartburn). I am a little overweight. Rosh Hashana is almost constant praying, eating and sleeping, and the seven days of Succot will be more of the same. It’s too late to help this time, but do you have any advice that will help me get through Passover and the other holidays later in the Jewish year? P.T., Jerusalem
Dr. Menahem Moskovich, a senior gastroenterologist at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, comments: It is true that many Jewish holidays are – culinarily – difficult to digest. There are heavy meals, and heartburn and a heavy feeling can result. Try not to eat very large portions, which puts pressure on the sides of the stomach. This pressure can result in reflux, in which partially digested food is returned to the esophagus. The gastric acids make this painful. Try not to eat holiday meals close to bedtime, as sleep positions put pressure on the sphincter muscle that is meant to prevent reflux. Wait at least three hours between heavy meals and sleep.
Don’t drink too much alcohol, as it also weakens the sphincter muscle and increases the production of gastric acids. Various over-the-counter medications can help you deal with and even prevent heartburn. And walk or do other exercise on a daily basis.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel- Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to [email protected], giving your initials, age and place of residence.