Alzheimer's Disease, Brain Tumor, or Laziness?

I was sure I had Alzheimer’s Disease…or maybe a brain tumor.

The brain tumor wasn’t that far of a stretch. Five years ago, my mom was diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumor near her occipital nerve, which resulted in brain surgery. This plucky eighty-year-old is doing awesome now, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have inherited her brain physiology.

What was causing me to think this way? I promise, I’m not one taken to histrionics over symptoms of possible illnesses, even though I did partake in a few intense bouts of internet sleuthing. Something scary was happening that had my attention.

You see, I would be driving along, and I’d have minor panic attacks, having no idea of where I was. I would look around and fail to recognize landmarks, streets, or locations. And it was happening more frequently as time went on.

Before consulting with my doctor, I decided to see if I could figure out the culprit of the problem, as I suspected it had more to do with technology and my own laziness than with brain tumors or diseases.

So, I quit using my GPS unless it was an emergency and I manually punched in telephone numbers I knew instead of simply pushing a button to connect. At first, not much happened, but then after a couple months, I noticed that I wasn’t getting that “lost” feeling anymore.

There it was: I was just lazy!

My lack of adequately using visual and auditory memory skills while navigating routes had caused my skills to atrophy. But here’s the good news. Neurons that fire together wire together, so it’s easy enough to rebuild a skill that’s been weakened over time.

Kids, too, can have the same thing happen, only they usually can’t put words to why they aren’t able to remember vocabulary words for a quiz or recall which digit to add a number to when regrouping with addition.

Following are a few tips to help your child or student stay technologically smart:

1. Limit screen time. This one is obvious, but the average teen spends a minimum of nine hours on a screen every day!

2. Practice visual and auditory memory skills. There are numerous games available online that will help compensate for the loss of these skills due to use of smart phones and tablets.

3. Have your child or student tell you three reasons an app or game is needed before using it.

4. Be sure your kids and students get plenty of out of seat and nature time.

5. Base screen time on performances or goals. For instance, if your child wants to learn to do cartwheels, then an hour of screen time can be taken once five cartwheels are performed.

I was astounded at how much of my “directionality” muscle was lost over the years by just being a bit lazy with technology. Our kids are drawn to technology, and we must be sure to guide them in responsible ways!

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