Jean Carper, former CNN medical correspondent and syndicated "EatSmart" columnist, has written a new book:  100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss, available here:

After doing extensive research about the subject Carper makes the following recommendations.  You'll find some of them pretty surprising:

Drink coffee
. In an abrupt about-face about the subject, coffee is being touted as the new brain tonic. According to a recent European study, drinking three to five cups of coffee a day in midlife cut Alzheimer's risk 65 percent in later life. Lesson:  Unless your doctor advises otherwise, caffeinate!  

Floss. Researchers at the University of Southern California have found that the health of teeth and gums is a predictor of dementia.  Specifically, having periodontal disease before age 35 quadruples the odds of dementia later.  
Older people with tooth and gum disease score lower on memory and cognition tests, other studies show.

Google. UCLA's Dr. Small has used brain MRIs to measure brain stimulation, concluding that an online search is better for this than reading a book.  Small found that novice Internet surfers ages 55 to 78 activated key memory and learning centers in the brain within a week of Web surfing for a mere hour daily.  

Grow new brain cells. "Impossible," scientists used to say.  Now, they believe that thousands of brain cells are born every day.  Aerobic exercise--brisk 30-minute walks, eating salmon and other fatty fish, avoiding obesity, and the like--are good for the new cells.  

Drink apple juice.
Apple juice helps to produce a memory chemical, with results similar to the popular Alzheimer's drug Aricept, according to Dr. Thomas Shea, a researcher at the University of Massachusetts.  Shea found that old mice given apple juice
did better on learning and memory tests than mice that received only water. A dose for humans: 16 ounces, or two to three apples a day.

Protect your head. Blows to the head--even mild ones early in life--increase odds of dementia years later. Perhaps not surprisingly, pro football players have 19 times the typical rate of memory-related diseases. Columbia University researchers found that Alzheimer's is four times more common in elderly who’ve suffer a head injury.  

Meditate. Regular meditation reduces cognitive decline and brain shrinkage as we age.  Yoga meditation 12 minutes a day for two months has found to improve blood flow and cognitive functioning in seniors with memory problems.

Take D3. A "severe" deficiency of vitamin D3 boosts older Americans' risk of
cognitive impairment nearly 400 percent.  Most of us 
lack D3. Experts recommend a daily dose of 1,000 IU to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3.

Fill your brain. It
's called "cognitive reserve." A rich accumulation of life experiences--education, marriage, socializing, a stimulating job, physical activity and mentally demanding leisure activities--make your brain better able to tolerate plaques and tangles.  Researchers have found that we can even have significant Alzheimer's pathology and no symptoms of dementia if we have high cognitive reserve

I was thinking about Osama bin Laden a couple of days ago as my wife and I rushed through Penn Station in New York City to board a train bound for Washington, D.C.  He was on my mind specifically because we learned shortly after his death that an American train might be a likely future mass-murder al Qaeda target.

Imagine our surprise when (1) neither of us was required to produce ID at any time, (2) our considerable luggage wasn't scanned or inspected in any way, despite the fact that we inquired several times about railroad security, and (3) our actual tickets were required only after we'd been on the train for about an hour--and then only to double-check our final destination.

You guessed it:  THERE ISN'T SECURITY at Penn Station (and maybe all U S train stations?), even though, according to Wikipedia, "(Penn Station serves) 300,000 passengers a day at a rate of up to a thousand every 90 seconds, (and) it is the busiest passenger transportation facility in the United States and by far the busiest train station in North America. . . . Penn Station saw 8.4 million Amtrak passenger arrivals and departures in 2010."

The route to the nation's Capitol took us through some major cities--Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Wilmington (Delaware)--and a number of smaller ones.  Plenty of easily accessible and highly populated "soft targets," particularly for a militant who'd just like to put some deadly cargo on the train and leave--alive.

So, if the alternatives are planes, trains and automobiles, I think I'll drive, thanks.

(Editor's note:  Roger Scime is a good friend of ours here at Great Places, having worked with us for several intriguing months as we optimized the website.  We truly welcome this guest blog from him.  You may contact him at

I'm the invisible man. I turned 62 in September, and in any group younger than 30, no one notices me, nobody listens to me, it's as if I'm, well . . . invisible.

I first noticed this in 2003, when I was a mere 54 years old and decided to go back to school for my Master's degree. Most of my fellow grad students were in their 20s-30s, and immediately made friends, bonded, grouped, swarmed. I tried joining in as naturally and unobtrusively as possible. Occasionally I would offer advice on one subject or another, which the youngsters would accept willingly, then turn their backs as my existence faded from their consciousnesses. 

I finally managed to make a few friends, upon offering to host a field trip to a nearby city where an event was occurring. Everybody seemed to have a good time, but only two exchange students—one from
China, one from India—showed any interest in continuing any kind of relationship. I asked my Indian friend about this just a few months ago, and he said, "In India, we look upon those older than us with respect, something Americans don't seem to be capable of."

I'm currently taking MBA classes (we seniors seem to be addicted to learning. Go figure), and the professor had us self-select into groups of 3-4 for the final project of the class. I went from group to group, offering my services (a highly desirable one, for which none of the others were prepared), practically begging to join one or another, but I was—for all intents and purposes—ignored.

Finally, an exchange student from
Bangladesh, asked me to join his group. Mind you, I didn't have to ask, beg, or abase myself. He just asked. Do you sense a pattern here?

Well, we're working on his project (a business plan for a multimillion- dollar hospital in
Bangladesh), and I'm making my contribution as wordsmith, editor, and social-media facilitator. Additionally, he's invited me to a cocktail party tonight, where Angels and other investors will be present. He told me he wants somebody mature there representing his venture and I was the best person he knew to be the face of his company.

It's a shame I'm invisible to my own countrymen, but not to others.

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