Chat Transcript -- Healthy Aging-Memory Enhancement -- 12/6/00

Healthy Aging: Memory Enhancement with Joanne Singleton, Ph.D.
Healthy Aging Hot Topic
December 6, 2000
9:00 – 10:00PM

>> RichOBoyle has joined channel #XC.1993632

The topic is: ElderCare Online

>> Ted_Yao has joined channel #XC.1993632

RichOBoyle> hello Ted and welcome to ElderCare Online

[JoanneSingleton] Hello Ted. How is your memory this evening?

RichOBoyle> Ted...where are you calling in from?

[Ted_Yao] You know, grief from the death of a parent and caregiving for a AD dad have really made my memory very fallible.

[Ted_Yao] a little town near Ottawa, Canada

RichOBoyle> can stress impact memory in the short and long terms?

[JoanneSingleton] Fallible in what way?

RichOBoyle> welcome from far away...Joanne and I are both in New York

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[JoanneSingleton] Stress can definitely impact memory.

[Ted_Yao] I lose things on the subway.... forget to follow up ....mostly lose things... lose track of why I sent upstairs

RichOBoyle> hello Winnie and welcome to ElderCare Online

RichOBoyle> we were just settling in and getting started

[JoanneSingleton] sometimes what happens is that we get distracted by stress and feelings of anxiety.

[Ted_Yao] Hello Winnie, there seems just the two of us visitors

[JoanneSingleton] Hello Winnie, how is your memory tonight?

[Winnie48297] Hello I decided to join the chat as I am a caregiver for my mother who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's

RichOBoyle> we had a few emailed questions so I will pose them after you guys have a chance to speak

[Winnie48297] My memory is fine except I have so much going on at one time

[Ted_Yao] Rich, you might as well start in with the questions. I am looking after my AD dad, Winnie

[Winnie48297] Which causes me to forget things, I guess that would be normal

[JoanneSingleton] Ted, one thing to do to try and lose things is put them back in the same place

>> Loretta404 has joined channel #XC.1993632

[Ted_Yao] yes and don't try to do too much

[Loretta404] hello everyone

RichOBoyle> hi loretta and welcome...its good to see you again

[JoanneSingleton] Hello Loretta

[Loretta404] I had to get a new computer ...good to be back

RichOBoyle> Joanne...what kind of memory loss and lapses can be considered normal?

[Ted_Yao] Loretta, where are you from?

[Loretta404] NJ

[JoanneSingleton] yes you are right about not trying to do too much.

[JoanneSingleton] To answer your question Rich, whenever someone is concerned about memory problems they should consult with their health care provider

[Ted_Yao] I think the death of a parent, which I have experienced recently, means that you take "losses" harder, since fate has proven that you can't control the things that are most important

[Ted_Yao] But I would say that definitely that disorganization is part of the grieving; and caring for an Ad parent is also a form of grief

RichOBoyle> I have often heard that people caring for an AD loved one go through long periods of grief even before the person passes

[JoanneSingleton] Losing a loved is a great loss and causes great stress. The disorganization is most likely from being distracted and is part of the grieving process

[Loretta404] ...

RichOBoyle> for all attendees: if you are just listening, you must type a few dots, like ... to avoid being bumped out of the chatroom

[Winnie48297] ....

RichOBoyle> type them every 4-5 minutes (just like Loretta did)

RichOBoyle> ok :)

[Ted_Yao] may have to go soon, I'm visiting and I can't tie up my hosts telephone for too long

RichOBoyle> Joanne, I have seen a lot of dietary supplements for sale that say they help improve ginkgo biloba

[Winnie48297] .....

RichOBoyle> are these supplements effective?

[Ted_Yao] My dad was on real ginkgo nuts for a number of years, I can't say it seemed to do much good. In fact he seems to be better now that we see him daily instead of weekly

RichOBoyle> Ted, please sign up for the newsletter and I will keep you posted of additions to the site related to AD... in case you have to sign off early

[Loretta404] ...

[JoanneSingleton] Ginkgo has been shown to be effective in individuals who have had a condition that causes decreased blood flow to the brain. Currently there are clinical trails being conducted by the National Institutes of Health to see if it is effective for others and if it improves memory.

[Ted_Yao] so compared to the old fashioned kind of stimulation, human contact, exercise, etc gingko nuts are a distant second best

RichOBoyle> I have heard of many people with AD who are taking gingko as part of a medical regimen that includes vitamin E, Aricept, et al.

[JoanneSingleton] In some circumstances Ginkgo can help- it increases the flow of blood to the brain.

[Loretta404] I gave them to my husband in the beginning, no help at all, maybe before Alzheimer’s starts it would help

RichOBoyle> so gingko isn't "proven" to enhance memory?

RichOBoyle> to be honest, I used to take ginkgo supplements for about a year...I didn’t notice a difference before or after...maybe a very slight improvement.

[Ted_Yao] On the other hand, my dad's doctor says the first rule of medicine is to do no harm and gingko biloba does no harm. I think that with an irreversible ,incurable disease like AD, we can't believe we just are helpless.

[JoanneSingleton] Not yet Rich. Hopefully NIH will find out. In the mean time lots of people are using it. I just read and article that has shown Lethicine to be effective

[Winnie48297] ......

RichOBoyle> while we haven't found cures for AD and other diseases...are there things that the CGs and general public can supplement their diets with to improve memory?

[JoanneSingleton] I agree that Gingko doesn't do any harm, but it can be expensive

[Ted_Yao] is the article on Lethicine based on clinical trials?

[JoanneSingleton] Yes the Lethicine info was from a recent small clinical trial

RichOBoyle> are there any prescription drugs available or in development that focus on memory improvement (in USA or Europe), to your knowledge?

RichOBoyle> something like Viagra for the brain?

[JoanneSingleton] One of the interesting phrases in the area of memory, in the absence of disease is "use it of lose it"

[Ted_Yao] OK I'll ask my dad's doctor to prescribe it (lethicine). Frankly I think it is a placebo for us Caregivers to keep up our morale; It could served a useful function that way

[Winnie48297] Are we talking about Lecithin or Lethicine

[Loretta404] ...

[JoanneSingleton] I think what caregivers need to do as hard as it may be it to pay attention to their own well being.

[Ted_Yao] i don't know about he use it or lose it theory. My dad took up an obscure branch of mathematics when he was stricken with AD and in fact had just published a book on the subject. You could hardly say he wasn't using it.

[JoanneSingleton] I think you missed what I said about in the absence of disease.

[Ted_Yao] When he got AD I would constantly ask him what day it was. He has never been able to answer. I'm interested in what Rich is saying.

RichOBoyle> what are so things that we can do...tests, exercises, neurobics... to keep from losing it?

[Ted_Yao] Loretta and Winnie, do you have an opinion?

[JoanneSingleton] There are many things that we can do, all based on the idea of stimulating the brain and forging new connections. For instance, as in neurobics, using the senses more fully to make new connections. Or when meeting someone associating something with their name and face in order to remember.

[Loretta404] the only thing that helped my husband is Aricept

[Winnie48297] That is what my mother is taking, Aricept

[Winnie48297] I just hate the side effects of the medication, the insomnia

[Loretta404] he sleeps all the time

[Winnie48297] My mother sleeps all the time in the daytime, but at night she is awake

[Loretta404] I can't sleep and was always good at it

[JoanneSingleton] the side effects put added stain on caregivers

[Ted_Yao] If I were an AD sufferer, I would be pretty depressed. Sleep is an escape.

[Loretta404] right

[Winnie48297] Yes I agree

[Winnie48297] Especially in my mother's case, she is 81 years old and just retired at 75 as a special education teacher

[Ted_Yao] But for caregivers, insomnia seems to be the problem

[JoanneSingleton] Sleep is important for both the loved on you are caring for and for your self

[Winnie48297] She was diagnosed this March

RichOBoyle> I have a link to a site that has several brain and memory tests and games on it...


[Loretta404] thanks I'll try it.

[Ted_Yao] I find I am waking in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. It is a vicious circle

[JoanneSingleton] there are different kinds of insomnia, when it does not persist for over a month it is considered transient

[Ted_Yao] Is insomnia not also highly correlated with age?

[Loretta404] I just started sleeping pills and don't want to but I'm afraid if I have to drive the next day I want to be alert

RichOBoyle> CGs are at special risk for stress, insomnia, poor health... all of these things can cause memory problems

[Ted_Yao] I understand stress is an important cause of auto accidents too, so it is a double danger

[JoanneSingleton] As we age we require a bit less sleep, but often what happens is that older adults who have time on their hands, nap during the day, so if you add up all their hours of sleep its not that different from adults in general.

[Winnie48297] I wish I could give you advice, but I don't know how I do it. I am a medical transcriptionist and I work at home now, take care of my mother, do all the cooking etc. and take care of her financial business, I don't do any special thing accept pray

[Ted_Yao] well that is pretty special

[JoanneSingleton] Praying is a wonderful form of support

[Winnie48297] I agree without it I would not be able to take the stress

[Ted_Yao] I find writing checks for parents ultra depressing. I am now taking care of them instead of the reverse

[JoanneSingleton] There is actually some research in this area that shows the beneficial effects of praying and spirituality on stress

[Winnie48297] Especially when you have to also take care of your own bills too, it can be a bit much in fact speaking of forgetting, this was the first month I had forgotten to pay my mother's rent on time, it was due on the first, but I did give it to them today.

[Ted_Yao] spiritual people go to church and have a good support group.

[Winnie48297] Not necessarily, I do not attend church

[JoanneSingleton] Some people actually do not go to church

RichOBoyle> I think that prayer can be relaxing and help refocus into positive imagery

[Winnie48297] And I am considered to be a very spiritual person

RichOBoyle> i think that both aspects of spirituality contribute to reducing stress -- relaxation and socialization

[Ted_Yao] OK you people are on to something

[JoanneSingleton] Winnie I know exactly what you are talking about. I did some research in this area, and none of the women actually went to church. they prayed on their own

RichOBoyle> have you folks taken the Survey on Healthy Aging on this site? we have some questions that relate to the role of family church, etc on healthy habits. You can begin the survey at


[Winnie48297] That's absolutely correct

[Ted_Yao] have you studied prayer or has someone helped you with this Winnie?

[JoanneSingleton] In fact the women in my research were home care workers

[Winnie48297] No I was brought up in a home where I had to attend Sunday school, church etc. I attended a private school from the first to sixth grades, Lutheran School, then became baptized as a Baptist

[Winnie48297] My minister passed away in 1988 and I just haven't found a new church home, I haven't found anyone who could compare to him

[Winnie48297] I have visited churches however

[Ted_Yao] I really must give up the phone, good bye everyone, and thank you very much for talking with me

>> Ted_Yao has left channel #XC.1993632

[JoanneSingleton] In addition to prayer what other things help support you in your caregiving?

RichOBoyle> good night Ted and thank you for attending

[Loretta404] nice talking with you

RichOBoyle> good question Joanne...

[JoanneSingleton] bye Ted

[Winnie48297] I see to it that I make time for myself. My daughter will and significant other will look after mom if there is something I want to do. It wasn't that way at first, however. So I do get respite

Winnie48297] I am an only child so all the responsibility does fall on me

[JoanneSingleton] I hope that Loretta and Winnie will answer the questionnaire to help us understand this

[Loretta404] I will, I enjoy them

[Winnie48297] How do I get the questionnaire. I will be glad to fill it out

RichOBoyle> a special incentive I will be giving exercise videos and....chocolate gifts to 15 of the respondents

RichOBoyle> the questionnaire is available in the Healthy Aging Hot Topic...and right on the front page under "What's New"


RichOBoyle> I think as a condition for receiving the chocolates, you have to take the exercise video

[JoanneSingleton] Winnie I am glad to hear that you are able to get some respite. What about you Loretta?

[Loretta404] not me it's 24/7 I sneak out rarely

[Winnie48297] The only thing I won't do, however, is go to my own doctor, I have hepatitis C and I know I should be seeing my doctor

[JoanneSingleton] Are you able in your 24/7 to attend to your own needs?

[Loretta404] but most of the time we enjoy going out to lunch and walks together

[Winnie48297] I feel fine, however, but

RichOBoyle> we all know that the cardinal rule of CG is to take care of the caregiver...

RichOBoyle> Joanne has written a great article on that is in the Hot Topic right now (

[JoanneSingleton] That is so important, whether you are professional caregiver or providing care to a loved one. If we don't care for ourselves then it makes it difficult to have the stamina and sensitivity we need in these demanding roles.

RichOBoyle> as we wind down the last 5-10 minutes...would you like to offer any additional questions ...or any closing comments?

[Loretta404] the hardest part for me is not to show him how annoying it is having him repeat things over and over

RichOBoyle> loretta...i will try to get some more articles and tips on the day-to-day stuff like that

[JoanneSingleton] there are many things we can do to promote and support our well being, in the case you describe Loretta you might take a look at the article and try using breathing exercises to help you with this

[Winnie48297] Yes that gets next to me also at times

[Loretta404] I sure could use it

[Loretta404] I'll say goodnight and thanks

[JoanneSingleton] Goodnight Loretta

[Winnie48297] Goodnight Loretta, good luck

[Loretta404] you too

[JoanneSingleton] Winnie do you have any questions or comments

RichOBoyle> the frustrating thing with ad is that often the CG can do nothing about the problems...and you have to accept them, can't confront your LO and learn ways for both of you to distract from the behavior

RichOBoyle> goodnite loretta, good to see you again

[Loretta404] soon

RichOBoyle> Winnie, thank you for your personal comments on your spirituality

[Winnie48297] No I can't think of anything but I am glad I attended the chat

[Winnie48297] You are quite welcome and good night

RichOBoyle> quite a few of our members have strong personal faith...and i try to give an avenue for them to express it.

[JoanneSingleton] I'm glad you did too. I'm also glad that you have found prayer as a support

[JoanneSingleton] Well Winnie and Rich, perhaps it is time to say goodnight

RichOBoyle> thank you so much Joanne

[Winnie48297] Thank you

RichOBoyle> this has been very informative for me as well

>> Winnie48297 has left channel #XC.1993632

[JoanneSingleton] It was a pleasure and I look forward to next week

RichOBoyle> good night Joanne...


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