Strong Memory, Sharp Mind by Dr. Frank Minirth
For readers who may not know, the author, Dr. Frank Minirth, passed away in January, 2015. STRONG MEMORY, SHARP MIND is jammed with tons of ideas. That’s both a strength and a weakness. Yes, there is a LOT of good information here, but it takes a good amount of time to absorb the ideas.
The theme of the book is to encourage the reader to develop their own, personal, “Brain-Care Action Plan.” The first part of the book, “Threats to Cognitive Health,” is dedicated to convince the reader of the need to take proactive action to keep your brain healthy. Dr. Minirth explains,
“Don’t take your brain for granted. I wrote this book for those who want a basic understanding of the brain’s strengths and vulnerabilities and what can be done to reduce the risk of mental decline.”
The author cites one sobering statistic:
“An estimated 6.8 million Americans currently have dementia and 5.4 million suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.”
Each chapter of this book concludes with a Choose Well section that will help you enjoy more confidence and success throughout your adult years. “It’s encouraging to know that brainpower can be increased at any age— through childhood, adolescence, young adult, adult, and even in the senior years.”
Here’s a good tip, which actually applies to reading any work of non-fiction: “Keep a Pen and Highlighter Handy I encourage you to mark meaningful passages for frequent review and to highlight the action tips and how-to lists.”
There is a large section entitled, “Tips for Caring for Someone with Dementia,” devoted to helping the caregiver. I found the suggestions useful. For example, “Read and play memory games do crosswords and puzzles socialize with friends…” For safety, “Install safety latches high on doors limit choices to avoid confusion remove tripping/ fall hazards…”
PART 2 is called, “How to Protect Your Mind.” This latter half of the book is jammed with ideas—many of which I found excellent. For example, on getting proper sleep, “Avoid long-term use of sleep aid medications because they may disturb stage IV sleep, making sleep less productive. . . Set a regular sleep routine for bedtime and wake-up time.”
Some tips are simple, but still valuable. For instance, “Use your time wisely. Find spare moments each day for mental exercise.” Another, “What is your best biological time of day?”
Towards the end of the book, the author reveals his personal “Easy Learning Plan.” When studying a book, follow these steps:
1) Scan the entire material as quickly as possible;
2) Then read it through slowly. (Read important parts out loud to help you remember.)
3) Finally, study the material and write down a brief outline for review.
This recommended process is very similar to the "How to Read a Book" method espoused by the late Dr. Mortimer Adler, which I have personally used for 20 years.
So all in all, I found STRONG MEMORY, SHARP MIND to be a meaty book full of practical ideas on keeping our minds sharp well into our senior years. The rear of the book has some detailed appendices:
Appendix A The Brain and Memory
Appendix B Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementias, and Cognition
Appendix C Vocabulary Words
Appendix D Answers to Brain Boosters
Finally, the author provides an encouraging note, which I think nicely sums up his message:
“The good news is that your mental health responds to nurturing.”
I found this book to be full of wise advice. I wish the author were still alive, and I regret never meeting him.
Advance Review Copy courtesy of the publisher.