Fighting Alzheimer’s Is Possible – A Counterpoint Inspiration
Naturally Is Possible
Nathan Batalion, Global Health Activist, Healing Talks Editor
(Healingtalks) Alzheimer’s disease first manifests with a loss of short-term memory. It soon thereafter exhibits a fading of long-term memory as well. Can we effectively fight Alzheimer’s or should we just give in?
Treating Alzheimer’s naturally
On this subject I am strongly believe that this terrible ailment of Alzheimer’s can be treated naturally. Drug attempts are wholesale failing, despite billions spent on research. At the same time Alzheimer’s can be avoided, healed and even reversed by non-drug means. It takes a special knowledge to reverse Alzheimer’s effectively. See related articles below on this subject.
As in fighting any chronic illness, a strongly positive attitude and outlook is essential. You can greatly exercise the mind, when there is a will, and when natural therapies are in the background as support.
That is why I want to share this inspirational article with our readers. It appeared in the NY Times and is a testament to opposite human potential. My own dad died with Alzheimer’s so this issue is always on the forefront of my mind.
I hope thus that our blog posts can inspire many to get out of further slippage of mental powers because the positive potentials of the human mind, and even its recovery from illness, are really awesome.
Nathan Batalion CTN
Certified Traditional Naturopath
stages of alzheimers,
alzheimer s stages,
fighting alzheimers is possible
March 9, 2011
Half the Game Is Mental; So Is the Other Half
By JOHN BRANCH
HERSHEY, Pa. — There is a narrow little room inside the sprawling brick tangle of Hershey High School, not far from the dual smokestacks of the famous chocolate company. The door is not numbered and the walls have no windows. A teacher named Colette Silvestri spends Thursday afternoons inside, leading her team in practice.
She times a group of students staring hard at pieces of paper, or sometimes at a deck of cards or pictures of people they do not know.
The students memorize all they can, usually in 15-minute stretches of tedious silence. Then they spill their memory to recall, say, 120 random words in exact order. (That is roughly the length of this article to the end of this sentence, but with the words shuffled.) Or maybe they will try to match 159 unfamiliar names to photos of strangers, or recall 227 exact words, capital letters and punctuation of a poem read for the first time.
Those are, after all, the national records held by members of the Hershey memory team.
The 14th annual USA Memory Championship will take place at the Con Edison building at 14th Street and Irving Place in Manhattan on Saturday, beginning at 8:30 a.m., and Hershey is the three-time defending champion in the high school division. Of the national records established in five major individual memory events, Hershey students hold three of them.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Tony Dottino, founder of the national competition.
In his mind, memory teams are a perfect fit for high schools, given the studying and testing students go through. But he is frustrated that there have never been more than four high school teams competing at the national championship.
There is no governing body tracking the number of teams nationwide, but the number is surely small. There are only a handful of teams that Mr. Dottino is aware of outside of the competition.
“I’m banging my head against the wall getting more kids involved,” he said.
For now, the model program can be found in central Pennsylvania, planted there by a corporate leadership consultant named Rhonda Hess. She became a judge for Mr. Dottino’s national competition in New York several years ago and returned home convinced that memory training would be a useful tool for students. She found a few willing teachers and started the Pennsylvania Memory Competition. The sixth annual contest, with three schools, was held in February.
Hershey won, beating its primary rival, Mechanicsburg Area High School (winner of the 2006 and 2007 national competitions) and Shippensburg Area High School. More impressive, two national records were set by a pair of 16-year-old Hershey juniors.
Kelly Kohlman, also involved in school plays and dance, perfectly recalled 227 words, capital letters and punctuation of a poem she had just read. Sophia Hu, who pole-vaults for the track team and is deaf, accurately wrote down 120 random words in their given order.
Ms. Silvestri, the school’s “gifted support teacher,” is the coach. She talks fast and laughs easily, spilling wisdom fit for inspirational posters.
“I’d rather put memory in a child than a computer,” she said.
Ms. Silvestri says she believes that memory training resurrects a holy trinity of old-school skills, countering the computer age with pencil and paper. It improves attention spans, penmanship and the ability to retain information, she says, all victims of technology.
“Go out and touch the flowers,” she said. “Digital’s great. But we’re human.”
It is a sharp change of philosophy for Ms. Silvestri, whose eclectic background includes opera and playwriting. She was a tech-savvy former committee researcher for the Pennsylvania Senate when she left to teach. She inherited the memory team at East Pennsboro High School in 2007, and members wore matching shirts that read: “Be nice to us. We never forget a face.”
She moved to Hershey High School for the next school year and practically pulled in a batch of potential mental athletes from the hallway. Her team has won every national championship since. Their trophies hold a prominent place at the school’s main entrance.
The first year, the team’s shirts read: “Don’t call us. We’ll recall you.”
“We had one that was … what was it?” Ms. Silvestri said.
“I can’t remember,” Vishnu Patel, a junior, said with a flat-line delivery.
Forgetfulness is a persistent, weary joke. Those on the memory team are constantly quizzed by others. Quick — what was the license plate number on that car? What did I wear yesterday? Teachers chide members for forgetting homework.
“We get the brunt of a lot of jokes,” said Vishnu, a cross-country runner and vice president of the junior class. “A lot of jokes.”
Laughter stops when other students see Vishnu or his teammates cram for, say, a vocabulary test.
“I can remember 50 or 60 definitions that day rather than study it,” Kabir Singh said. “I don’t encourage it. But it works for me.”
Ms. Silvestri’s squad now has 15 members. It is so deep that the national record holder for names and faces, the 16-year-old junior Hannan Kahn, will be an alternate in New York. Well-rounded skills across all events are at a premium in the team competition.
There is no magic to Hershey’s success. Ms. Silvestri’s room is lined with bookshelves filled with books, puzzles, games, even a bust of Archimedes. It is lighted softly by table lamps and decorated with posters. (“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” one says.)
Among the books are ones from the likes of the two-time national champion Ron White and Tony Buzan, founder of the world memory championships, featuring complicated strategies for improving memory. They are generally ignored. Hershey students have found their own way. Mostly, they practice at the table.
“I said: ‘We have technique books over here, we have brute force over here. What is your pleasure?’ ” Ms. Silvestri said of her early practices. “They chose brute force.”
On a recent Thursday afternoon Ms. Silvestri handed each member two decks of cards. One was shuffled thoroughly; the other was in perfect order, by suit and number, and set aside. Ms. Silvestri started a five-minute timer.
Vishnu moved to the floor. He laid out nine cards in a row, and studied them. After a few moments he laid out seven in a row. Subsequent rows were smaller, down to one, then they grew again. After a couple of minutes, all of the cards were displayed in the shape of an hourglass. He stared.
“I just lay them down and memorize their position,” he said.
The students have their own styles. Kabir finds it easier to remember numbers, so each card is converted into numeric code. Spades (with one stem) are teens, hearts (two halves) are 20s, clubs (three leaves) are 30s and diamonds (four points) are 40s. The three of hearts, then, is 23, and the eight of clubs is 38.
Kelly creates an elaborate, medieval story about kings and queens. Sophia’s mind translates each card into a word. She usually remembers most of the deck.
“I don’t have a story,” she said. “Just picture, picture, picture.”
But Sophia is best at random words. Starting with columns of 20 words, competitors have 15 minutes to memorize each column in order. Getting an entire column right — spelling matters — means 20 points. Missing anything means zero for that column.
After 15 minutes, Sophia and the others were handed blank sheets on which to unspool their short-term memory. She silently retold the picture stories that connected the words in her head. With few hesitations, she scrawled down six columns of words — 120 of them.
In the end, she made two minor mistakes that cost her points from two columns. She wrote “injury” instead of “injure,” and “deviant” instead of “deviate.” The rest were perfect. Eighty points.
The first time she practiced, a couple of years ago, Sophia got 40. Now she is the best in the country. That kind of progress, Ms. Silvestri said, is why the students do it — and why the teacher sits in the narrow little room after school, waiting, guiding, prodding, encouraging.
The payoff comes when the children look up and realize that something clicked, or when they beat their personal best, or — these days — set a national record.
“It’s when they ran someplace you didn’t know existed,” Ms. Silvestri said, and tears welled in her eyes. “They saw further than you. That’s cool.”