Age-Defying Options

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"Stitching Together a New Life" [February 11] was an article I found inspiring.

The author smoothly knit a piece about the growth and creativity of a person aging with meaning and purpose. However, the cover story on "Keeping Your Brain Fit" in the same issue seemed to focus only on "mental muscle" in order to slow the effects of aging, rather than really developing the exciting possibilities of living life to the fullest. Gene Cohen's research, with its evidence of the many benefits of taking advantage of the opportunities for creativity in aging, was barely touched on, and his book, The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain, was not even mentioned. To me, this is one more example of the ageism still prevalent in the American culture. Antiaging creams, exercise, and pills are marketed with the emphasis on the fearful diminution of life. You missed an opportunity to celebrate the possibilities and potential of vital aging in the second half of life. Perhaps you'll make amends in May, Older Americans Month.

Jane Basey

81 years old

"Keeping Your Brain Fit" described tactics to prevent or delay dementia. "Dark-colored veggies" and "colorful fruits" contain flavonoids that may enhance conversion of vitamin D into the active form critical for proper function of our bodies and brains. Moderate red wine consumption has also been shown to reduce dementia risk, and flavonoids are the probable explanation. Six studies have measured serum vitamin D in Alzheimer's patients, and all found those levels to be seriously deficient. Three studies have shown low serum vitamin D related to poor cognitive performance in the elderly. Deficient vitamin D also is associated with risk factors for Alzheimer's including hypertension, inflammation, osteoporosis, diabetes, and tooth loss. This inexpensive vitamin has been shown in a Creighton University clinical trial to reduce the risk of cancer. It makes sense to boost the typical low vitamin D levels of our citizenry even if this did not augur for maintaining brain fitness.

Frederick N. Dyer, Ph.D.

Research Solutions Inc.
Columbus, Ga.  

"Keeping Your Brain Fit" states: "In your 70s and 80s, executive function starts to fail." And some want to elect John McCain president of the United States, our top executive office? He's 71. (By the way, I'm 74.)

Ross G. Kiihn

St. Paul, Minn.