I am an octogenarian. To improve my memory, I work hard at it. I try to be creative and learn new things. I think the aging mind can be very powerful in charting the unknowns. It is not going to be an easy fight.
When I was young, I used to watch how an ironsmith works. First, an intense fire is lit (could be anything, at my time it was coal, nowadays in some cases, it is a burning gas); some air is pumped into it to get the flame energized. A predetermined piece of iron (mostly a rod for making a sword or knife) is put on the top of the fire and let it get red hot, once the iron gets red hot, and then ironsmith keep hammering the rod until it gets the shape he desired. That’s the technic.
It worked every time. My aging mind works the same way. One must energize his mind first (learning), then set a goal and keep hammering until you finally achieve your goal. Never, ever give up. It works.
This is why!
I took the wheelchair handle from Selina’s daughter’s grip and walked with her. I walked with Selina on many days. I listened very carefully what she had to say. Mostly she was talking about her recent experience with other elders who she teaches in her art class. Her experiences were telling her that it is critical that we keep our brain active for coping with old age memory loss. She still believes that saffron use in diet can help the improvement of mild cognitive impairments at old age. A tough love for saffron.
She said to me: “Will you write about saffron and the old age memory loss story for me; people has the right to know how to handle themselves at old age.”
Her granddaughter Diana and Diana’s husband Kumar both are neuroscientists. I spoke with them. They both are continuing Selina’s work on understanding old age memory loss and how to’s to slow it down. They have the permission from Selina to use her life-long work on saffron.
My brief walk with Selina changed the way I view the world. I begin to see the value of Selina’s vision of magic of saffron. Humanity matters.
So, I decided to write the story of you at old age. We are sensitive to our surroundings, who we are at old age depending upon where we have been.
November is our National Alzheimer’s Disease Month.
First, what is Alzheimer’s disease? Dr. Alois Alzheimer was the first to describe this condition as a “peculiar disease” and hence the name Alzheimer was given. It affects the brain of a person, and as it progresses, the proteins in the brain of the individual begin to accumulate and form tangles. The tangles disrupt the connection of two nerve cells and die causing the brain tissue is damaged. When this happens, one will find it difficult to learn something new. At the early stage, it will attack the part of the brain which is called hippocampus. The primary role of the hippocampus is in remembering activities that happen in our daily lives. Now when it gets damaged, we tend to forget things. At the early stages, one won’t have loss of memory that happens a long time ago.
My suggestion would be to get involved this month and help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. It was President Ronald Reagan who designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s. The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is growing — and growing fast. An estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.
I met Mike in a coffee shop by the stadium. Mike told me his story how he got his love back with Selina. Mike was telling me stories that happened about ten years ago that day. Mikes friend David, the football player at Harvard came up with a brilliant idea. David was very smart. Although David and Selina went to the same high school, at Harvard they were not socially connected. Dr. Selina was too busy and never attended any social functions.
David’s wife Diane went out of convention invited Dr. Selina at their home for dinner. The excuse was the birthday of their two-year-old girl whose name also happened to be Selina. Selina did not refuse. They also invited Mike for their daughter’s birthday. David pretended that he has no knowledge of all these. Dr. Selina had her biggest surprise of her life seeing Mike in that day on little girl Selina’s birthday. That was the beginning of their new romance. That was the beginning of their romantic life back together again. For some reason, they never got married. I never asked anymore details other than what mike wanted to tell me. It happened so long ago before I met Dr. Selina.
I was puzzled.
It matters little how many diseases I have in medically advanced country, my quality of life is important to me. My time passed long time ago. But I have stories to tell of new times, in case you haven’t figured that out yet. One has to live through old age to understand fully what it has to offer for the end part of life. Maybe by stroke, by Dementia or whatever cause, we stand at risk of losing everything gained over lifetime. In our time, everything is challenging. It is challenging to do things, like, to walk, to eat, to dress, to bath or whatever we need to do live our daily lives. Every time we accomplish this by ourselves, we feel happy and feel satisfied. To enjoy it again and again, we have something to look forward to tomorrow; where tomorrow not sure. We must create and make plans something to look forward.
Humanity matters. Taking care of people with Old Age Memory Loss is a humanity issue to me. Dr. Selina’s life-long research work was to answer the questions: “Can we stop or slow ‘old age memory loss’? Can saffron in our daily diet or as a medicine help?”
So, I write.
“TELL ME A FACT AND I’LL LEARN. TELL ME A TRUTH I’LL BELIEVE, BUT TELL ME A STORY AND IT WILL LIVE IN MY HEART FOREVER.”
Each one of us has a story, and this one is Dr. Selina’s story!
Dr. Selina Saffron Johnson is her official name, yet everyone calls her Dr. Selina.
Dr. Selina, MD. Ph.D., a professor of Neurology at Harvard, is well known for her compassionate work on the world’s most seductive and precious spice saffron, and her colleagues at the Boston Aging Research Institute, calls her Dr. Saffron. Saffron has been a part of a human diet and used as an herbal medicine for thousands of years. Saffron has an amazing distinct color and flavor. Finding a cure for Old Age Dementia was Dr. Selina’s Dream. From the very early in her career Dr. Selina was interested in solving the problem of age-related decline, in memory function. At first, Dr. Selina worked with saffron as an antidepressant agent and then she spent all her career on memory enhancing effects of saffron and is hopeful that saffron would do it. Dr. Selina was also a part-time geriatric physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). When her parents suffered Old Age Dementia, it shook her up and took additional responsibilities at the Boston Aging Research Institute working days and nights, seven days a week determined to find a cure for dementia. Dr. Selina has made many contributions to brain science working at the Institute on various projects on cognitive dysfunction and ways to increase cognition potential. Sudden tragic circumstances in her life, combined with her old age, she is now coping with dementia. However, Dr. Selina did not give up hope. She is fighting hard for a win. I knew her well when I worked with her for about ten years and then lost touch completely. And then, about 18 years later we meet again in an amazing way!
Dr. Selina, now, is a famous artist, “The Saffron Artist.” She is painting stories of the New Old Age, Coping, and Caring, expressing in distinct Saffron color paintings. They are amazingly beautiful and informative.
This story is about her tough love for humanity and medicine.
Make no mistakes; this is a story!