Brain Fog…Is a Legit Diagnosis!
By: Sandra M. Stimson Executive Director

How many times have you heard someone say or you have said,
“I must have brain fog, I misplaced my cell phone or car keys?”. Have
you had ongoing symptoms of feeling hazy, spacey, difficulty processing information,
unable to pay attention, cloudy thoughts, poor concentration either sluggish or slow to
respond, unable to concentrate, tired, lack of energy,  you just don’t feel quite yourself,
your short term memory and long term memory seem affected?

These same symptoms can mirror other diagnosis such as, depression, mental
illness, severe stress and other serious illnesses.  Also these symptoms might be
side effects due to medications. Always alert your Physician about changes you are
noticing. Ask your Physician to perform tests for hormonal levels, thyroid function and
blood pressure to rule out medical conditions. Also consider having a screen for food
allergies to; sugar, wheat, peanuts and dairy products. If you have not had a complete
physical, consider having that done as well.

Some might ask if this is normal aging or Brain Fog? Often times, Brain Fog has been
over looked. And the great news is we can do something about it. Brain Fog or the
medical term Sjogrens Syndrome is described by the Sjogrens Syndrome Foundation
in the following way, “brain fog is a lay term used to describe fluctuating memory loss
that is inappropriate for a person’s age.”

The Sjogrens Syndrome Foundation recommends the following lifestyle changes. This
includes but not limited to;
•        Minimize stress and anxiety
•        Get plenty of sleep of 8 to 10 hours
•        Take breaks throughout the day
•        Learn relaxation exercises and practice throughout the day
•        Limit multi tasking and work on one task at a time.
•        Balance work and leisure. Develop a hobby if you don’t have one which can be
something as simple as reading or learning to play golf.
•        Let yourself laugh
•        Talk about your feelings
•        Set realistic expectations
•        Plan ahead
•        Reduce caffeine, alcohol and sugar
•        Manage pain and joint pain
•        Join the support group blog at the Sjogrens Syndrome Foundation
•        Seek therapy or a local support group
•        Exercise…start by walking five minutes and gradually work your way up
•        Boost your brain power by training your brain

Other recommendations to be added to the list but not used exclusively are to take
vitamins such as Vitamin D and B 12, supplements, eat more foods high in
antioxidants such as prunes, raisins, blackberries, kale, spinach, strawberries, dark
green vegetables, eat fish, nuts (some people swear by Brazil Nuts, Almonds and
Walnuts), add fiber. Add foods rich in Folic Acids such as cooked spinach. Avoid “bad”
fat which studies are now showing that it stunts the growth of brain cells. Instead switch
to olive oil and non saturated fat.  Eliminate coffee, sugar and junk food until you feel
better. Eat less and don’t eat when you are not hungry. There are some studies that
suggest  rats that were fed a calorie restricted diet had more brain power. Get outside
everyday and increase your exposure to fresh air and sun light.

“Add more brain foods to your diet such as Avocados, bananas, lean beef, brewer's
yeast. broccoli, brown rice, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cheese, chicken, collard
greens, eggs, flaxseed oil, legumes, oatmeal, oranges, peanut butter, peas, potatoes,
romaine lettuce, salmon, soybeans, spinach, tuna, turkey, wheat germ, and yogurt.”
Source
www.mindpowernews.com

So how can we boost our brain power?  Some suggestions are; learn a new skill, if you
are retired get a part time job, engage in socially and mentally stimulating activities
(such as a book club), establish new friends and relationships, join a gym or Spa and
actually go. Incorporate daily brain fitness games. You heard the phrase “use use it or
lose it.” The brain fitness games can be something you do for a few minutes.

Make use of brain games that are found in the local paper, online, book stores, the
checkout line at the grocery store. These include but are not limited to Cross Word
Puzzles, Word Games, Riddles, Trivia and Math Games. Read a book or begin a journal
and write in it every day.  Other examples of brain fitness games are scrabble and
chess. At ALZINFO they have free online brain games at
http://www.alzinfo.
org/alztalk/games.php.

There are new software’s applications that are available such as Dakim. “ Dakim Brain
Fitness Software cross-trains the brain in all six cognitive domains, including long-term
memory, short-term memory, language, computation, visuospatial orientation and
critical thinking to give you a comprehensive brain fitness workout to help keep your
mind vital and healthy.”  Source The Marble Store

Other suggestions are listening to classical music. Some people also use Aroma
Therapy and swear by Rosemary and that when you inhale Rosemary, it may wake up
your brain. Watch for scientific studies on this.

Innovative Cognitive Wellness Services such as Dynamic Senior Solutions out of Ohio
provide services for all ages to deal with the different facets of brain fitness and
wellness through assessments, scientifically developed programs, support systems,
and innovative cognitive exercises. Dynamic Senior Solutions uses a variety of
programs and software called My Vigorous Mind. The software that helps people who
suffer from cognition issues and helps with reasoning, language, processing speed,
sequencing and memory.  The client purchases a subscription to the software and it
can either be utilized in the facility, home or at the Dynamic Senior Solutions Office.
Tammy McVicker Vice President of Dynamic Senior Solutions recommends, “that
clients use the software at minimum three times a week with sessions lasting 30 to 60
minutes for improvement in cognition for people who are at risk for dementia or newly
diagnosed with dementia.” If you are interested in having this service in your facility,
contact Dynamic Senior Solutions. If you are a member of the NCCDP, they offer
discounted rates for our members.
http://www.dynamicseniorsolutions.com/

Stress can only add to Brain Fog. There is good stress and bad stress and all of it is
stressful. Other than the obvious stresses related to illness, family dynamics, loss of
job or home, the one stress that is common to many of us is income. Take the time to
visit the new OWN, Oprah Winfrey Network Dr. Phil Show on Frugal Living Tips, where
he addressed helpful tips on stretching your dollar. We can all use a little more wealth!
Just by using coupons you can literally cut your grocery bill in half. You than can use that
savings to begin investing in your future. The more you save the better you will feel
which can affect your quality of life.

Really examine the things that are causing you the most stress and see what changes
you can implement to make this a more enjoyable year.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” Albert
Einstein . So start by making a Brain Power plan for your life changes, get educated
about Brain Fog,  create new habits and pay a visit to your doctor .  This does not have
to be a life long illness and you literally are in charge of reversing Brain Fog.

Resources for Brain Fog or Sjogrens Syndrome

Sjogrens Syndrome Foundation has a great fact sheet to download at
http://www.sjogrens.org/files/brochures/brain_fog.pdf
Brain Fog Blog http://www.brainfogblog.com/
Brain Fog http://www.brainfog.net/
Marbles The Brain Store Has all kinds of books and games and software such as
Dakim
http://www.marblesthebrainstore.com/
70 Ways to Increase Your Brain Power http://www.mindpowernews.com/BrainPower.
htm
Book: The Memory Bible available at www.sjogrens.org
OWN Network Oprah Winfrey Network-Dr. Phil Show on Frugal Shopping http://www.
drphil.com/shows/show/1232/
Frugal Coupon Living http://www.frugalcouponliving.com/
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ABOUT SANDRA

Sandra Stimson has
experience as a corporate
consultant, Corporate Trainer
and National Speaker. Her
experience is in long term
care, as Activity Director,
Director of Alzheimer's Units
and Assistant Administrator of a
550 bed long term care county
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Pet Express Pet Therapy Club,
is a Life Replay Specialist.  
Sandra implements dementia
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