I always think of the brain as a gigantic muscle. Just like any other part of our bodies, when you don't exercise your mind, you don't achieve maximum performance.
I can remember as a student, finding ways to help me understand and memorize the plethora of information that I was bombarded with each day. I kept those habits with me through my lifetime by doing things like reading books that made me think, daily newspapers, playing chess, doing crossword puzzles, writing and listening to music.
As I get older, yes, my knees hurt, I have back pain, and God knows my shoulder gives out once in a while - but my mind is as sharp as ever. There are many disease processes that can prematurely age the brain and interfere with memory, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, epilepsy and certain metabolic disorders. And I know that the pharmaceutical industry is trying their best to develop medications that will help these patients retain memory function.
These days, I am reading more and more about college students relying on pills to help with their concentration. Even parents are requesting that some of these pills be prescribed to their children to enhance their performance in school.
Now I'm not saying that some kids don't need medications to help them concentrate, but the recreational use of these drugs is getting out of hand, and parents need to be aware that the potential side effects can be serious.
But what is even more upsetting to me, is what I have been reading lately about some pharmaceutical companies developing a new lifestyle pill for the general population suffering from what they like to call "age-related memory loss." These new medications are basically watered-down versions of some of the drugs that patients are taking for the treatment of Alzheimer's. But these new, less-potent versions are targeted toward making healthy minds sharper and more aware.
I can see it now, let's look at the commercial_
Husband:Honey, I'm home, and I picked up the groceries like you asked.
Wife:Thank you dear, but oh - you forgot to buy the bread and butter.
Husband:Oh, you're right - I don't know what happened...I just forgot.
[Insert sentimental music here]
Cue sympathetic voice saying: "Don't forget the small things, take this 'new pill' that will help you remember everything you need to know to keep your wife happy."
Getting old is not a bad thing. But taking pills to stay young, could have a very damaging effect on our future. What's next, a pill to forget?