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Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~

Cases of severe lung disease occur within those of us who have attained a goodly number of years. That being the case, we tend to be subject to the worries of aging just like the rest of the population. Among these worries are the fear of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or just a general fear of losing the memories that we have accumulated over the years.

We are continually hammering into you about exercising your body, so that you can continue to do the things that you really want to do. The same concept applies to our minds. In order to maintain cognitive abilities, you must exercise them also. Here are a handful of steps that you can take to maintain them.

Take a walk. Whether it be in your neighborhood or on a nature trail, pay attention to what is going on around you. Take note of the sights, sounds, and smells that surround you. There are an abundance of internet applications for your smartphone that will tell you where you have been, where you’re going, and hopefully how to get back home. All important stuff.  If the weather is too nasty, hot, or whatever to walk outside, find a nice air-conditioned mall and walk there. Consider leaving your credit cards at home …

Solve a crossword puzzle. If you have found some excuse not to get out and take a walk, find the crossword puzzle in your daily newspaper or a crossword puzzle book, and do your best to solve them. Crossword puzzles require that you use your long-term memory to solve the clues that they gave you. It is an excellent exercise in thinking, and it will keep you out from underfoot of your caregiver.

Try a math puzzle. You can find them in most newspapers or online. The math challenges will help to build your critical thinking skills and improve your problem-solving ability.

Learn a new language. It is never too late to learn at least a few words in another language. There are many language apps that are available online, some of them free. To make it a bit more interesting, take some time and study the countries that speak your new language.

Volunteer. If you dedicate some time to helping others, whether it be as a caregiver or as a helper for some sort of social organization, it will tend to take you out of yourself and force you to react to new situations.

Lastly, just in case you thought that you might escape this suggestion, exercise! Spending some time on the treadmill, the exercise bike, or whatever other torture device that might be sitting around will help you to maintain the blood circulation and the energy necessary to enjoy the other activities that I have suggested.

You come as a package. At our advanced ages, the package may have some dented corners and unexplained blemishes, but it is still our package. We owe it to ourselves and to those who care for us to maintain that package in the best condition we can. Cognitive abilities are a big part everyone’s package, and they deserve some attention to keep them sharp.

~ Uncle Jim

Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them. 

If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE by visiting or calling 1-877-704-0878 to talk to an oxygen advisor. When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.