Post Script: Brain Rules For Ageing Well – John Medina

 

Brain Rules for Ageing Well

 

Brain Rules For Ageing Well

John Medina

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925322903

 

Description:

‘This is much more than the usual self-help book.

GP SPEAK

How come I can never find my keys? Why don’t I sleep as well as I used to? Why do my friends keep repeating the same stories? What can I do to keep my brain sharp?

 

Scientists know. Brain Rules for Ageing Well, by developmental molecular biologist Dr John Medina, gives you the facts — and the prescription to age well — in his engaging signature style.

 

With so many discoveries over the years, science is literally changing our minds about the optimal care and feeding of the brain. All of it is captivating. A great deal of it is unexpected.

 

In his New York Times bestseller Brain Rules, Dr Medina showed us how our brains really work — and why we ought to redesign our workplaces and schools to match. Now, in Brain Rules for Ageing Well, he shares how you can make the most of later life. In a book destined to be a classic on ageing, Medina’s fascinating stories and infectious sense of humour breathe life into the science.

 

Brain Rules for Ageing Well is organised into four sections, each laying out familiar problems with surprising solutions. First up, an overview: looking under the hood of an ageing brain as it motors through life. The second part focuses on the feeling brain, using topics ranging from relationships and stress to happiness and gullibility to illustrate how our emotions change with age. The third focuses on the thinking brain, explaining how various cognitive gadgets such as working memory and executive function change with time. Each section is sprinkled with practical advice: for example, a certain style of dancing may be better for your brain than eating fish. Medina explains not only how taking certain actions can improve your brain’s performance, but also what is known about the brain science behind each intervention.

 

The final section is about the future. Your future. It’s filled with topics as joyful as retirement and as heartbreaking as Alzheimer’s. Medina connects all of the chapters into a plan, checklist-style, for maintaining your brain health. You may already be experiencing the sometimes unpleasant effects of the ageing process. Or you may be deeply concerned about your loved ones who are. Either way, Brain Rules for Ageing Well is for you.

 

My View:

What a wonderful insightful read – so relevant and so well written – the information is presented in a manner that is at times humorous (filled with anecdotes that hit the spot), informative, practical and sometimes a little sad.  I love the 10 Brain Rules for Aging Well (summarised in the introduction.)

 

  1. Be a friend to others, and let others be a friend to you.
  2. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
  3. Mindfulness not only soothes but improves.
  4. Remember, it’s never too late to learn – or teach.
  5. Train your brain with video games.
  6. Look for 10 signs before asking, “Do I have Alzheimer’s.”
  7. MIND your meals and get moving.
  8. For clear thinking, get enough (not too much) sleep.
  9. You can’t live forever, at least not yet.
  10. Never retire, and be sure to reminisce.

 

Do you include any of the 10 rules in your day?

 

 

 

Post Script: How Not to Disappear – Clare Furniss

How Not To Disappear

How Not To Disappear

Clare Furniss

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471144820

 

Description:

Our memories are what make us who we are. Some are real. Some are made up. But they are the stories that tell us who we are. Without them we are nobody.

 

Hattie’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her two best friends have abandoned her: Reuben has run off to Europe to ‘find himself” and Kat is in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend. Meanwhile Hattie is stuck babysitting her twin siblings and dealing with endless drama around her mum’s wedding. Oh, and she’s also just discovered that she’s pregnant with Reuben’s baby.

 

Then Gloria, Hattie’s great-aunt who no one even knew existed, comes crashing into her life. Gloria’s fiercely independent, rather too fond of a gin sling and is in the early stages of dementia. Together the two of them set out on a road trip of self-discovery — Gloria to finally confront the secrets of her past before they are erased from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future.

 

Non Pratt’s Trouble meets Thelma and Louise with a touch of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, Clare Furniss’ remarkable How Not To Disappear is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel that will make you laugh and break your heart.

 

My View:

This is an engaging read, at time hilarious, at times poignant and heartbreaking – it may sound like I am describing a modern YA romance but this book is so much more than that. It is a coming of age story, a story of the circle of life – and in particular focusses on end of life/beginning of life, relationship and dementia.   But it is also about memory and identity, prejudice, love, family, assumptions, domestic violence and unplanned pregnancy…this narrative discusses so many issues you will wonder how the author managed to weave them all into a totally engaging and meaningful story. I enjoyed every moment of this – so much so I had a tear in my eye at its end.

 

In the acknowledgments Clare Furniss gives “heartfelt thanks” to the many friends, family and colleagues who “made the writing of this book possible in so many ways, from proofreading, and advising on historical details to child-minding and …support.”(p.407)

I would like to give my heart think thanks to Clare Furniss for:

  • Writing diverse characters  – with flaws, with temperaments, with histories, with dignity, with life experiences – the good and the bad.
  • Writing empathetically about aging and dementia.
  • Writing a complex narrative with so many social issues woven into its fabric – book clubs take heed – this book will suit your purposes very well.
  • Writing strong female protagonists – I loved then all – Gloria, Hattie, Kat, Edie, Alice, Hattie’s mum….
  • For not taking the easy way out and letting the car accident resolve the “problem” – no spoilers here.
  • For exploring and revealing the intricacies and diversity of relationships, the give and take, the abuse of.
  • For allowing Hattie to determine her own future.
  • For writing a wonderful mystery with twists and turns that you won’t anticipate.
  • For not sugar coating
  • For the dual story line/dual time lines – I loved the social commentary, the social history.
  • For writing a narrative that a fifteen year old or a fifty year old can enjoy.
  • For giving me a most enjoyable and entertaining evenings read.

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Night Guest – Fiona McFarlane

The Night Guest

The Night Guest

Fiona McFarlane

Penguin Books Australia

Hamish Hamilton

ISBN: 9781926428550

Description:

The debut of a major Australian writer, The Night Guest is a mesmerising novel about trust, love, dependence, and the fear that the things you think you know may become the things you’re least sure about.

One morning an elderly widow called Ruth wakes thinking a tiger has been in her seaside house. Later that day a formidable woman called Frida arrives, looking as if she’s blown in from the sea, but who has in fact come to care for Ruth.

Frida and the tiger: both are here to stay, and neither is what they seem. How far can Ruth trust them? And as memories of childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency, how far can she trust herself?

The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane’s hypnotic first novel, is no simple tale of a crime committed and a mystery solved. This is a tale that soars above its own suspense to tell us, with exceptional grace and beauty, about ageing, love, power and perception; about how the past can colonise the present, and about things (and people) in places they shouldn’t be. Above all, it’s a brilliantly involving story about two very particular women.

Here is a new writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to describe the mysterious workings of our minds.

My View:

This was an exceptional read – a unique writing style, one of measured comments, visually beautiful and a heartbreakingly sad narrative.

The topics of aging, aged care, love and aging  are rarely discussed in contemporary literature, and I haven’t come across such a setting and set of characters in my reading of crime fiction in my entire reading life, which made this an extraordinary reading experience.

From the very beginning you get the feeling that something is not quite right; there are subtle hints that all is not quite how it first seems, is Ruth imagining things, is Ruth losing her faculties? One minute she is lucid and in control and reminiscing of life gone by, next she is experiencing strange sights, smells and sounds? What is real? What is fiction? Ruth doesn’t quite no either. Then she is rescued by Frida. The minute Frida walked into Ruth’s life I was suspicious, on guard and concerned for Ruth. But was she really trouble? McFarlane teases us with a character that is complex, demonstrates humanity, and who appears to be doing her job.  Then we get Ruth’s conflicted and confused perspective. Do we believe our own gut instincts or Ruth’s troubled memory?

This book is a slow burn, a thoughtful look at aging, at caring, at manipulation and crime. McFarlane’s characters are well developed, empathetic and grounded in reality – even the villain of the piece has moments of humanity and shows real concern, but that doesn’t stop her conniving and manipulating; life is not simply all black or all white. Tension is slowly built, this book will not keep you awake at night but it will make you think.