Learning a foreign language doesn’t always have to be a necessity or something that you must do to make your portfolio shine. Many people enjoy the art of becoming multilingual just because they can. This educational passion not only can be pretty useful, but it’s also a good booster for your brain. Not sure how? Let me break it down for you.
Experts have studied that adults who are bilingual or learning a new language have higher than average intelligence levels, better cognitive functions, and a sharper memory. These might seem like pretty obvious benefits of learning a new language but it can also affect your mental health at a deeper level.
Take for example debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s. Research has shown that people who invest their time in learning a foreign language have a decreased risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Brain scans of bilinguals have also shown enhanced and larger language centers in the hippocampus of the brain that is responsible for memory building and storage.
There is a substantial amount of evidence on how learning a new language can improve your mental flexibility and the overall functioning of your brain. So if you were considering learning a new language, that’s enough motivation for you to start right now!
We’ve seen it on TV, in cartoons – characters getting sudden episodes of fits. It’s almost taken as a hilarious act in some shows but there’s honestly nothing funny about a fit.
Seizures, known by the layman as a fit or simply and episode, is a spontaneous change in the electrical conductivity in your brain that causes a sudden change in movement and behavior. In some forms of seizures, unconsciousness follows before the patient can recover.
Seizure is a broad term; there are actually several different types of it. Most of these episodes last for only about 30 seconds to two minutes but even this short time period is a serious cause of distress for both the patient and his loved ones.
The underlying pathology of a seizure varies from what caused it in the first place. A neurological disorder, epilepsy, is the leading cause of seizures but meningitis, high-grade fever, certain medications, low sodium levels and even a striking lack of sleep can cause a seizure to occur.
It’s important to know how you need to act if you witness someone with an episode of a fit. During the attack, it’s important that you clear other people away and remove all sharp objects from the vicinity of the patient because you never know if they might lash out. It’s also important to not hold them down or try to stop the uncontrolled movements they make. Waiting is pivotal and it’s also the most hardest.
Once the episode has safely subsided, check in with the doctor. Anticonvulsants are the first line of therapy in patients with seizures along with certain lifestyle changes such as improving sleep quality, stress management and removing triggers.
Diseases that inch by inch rob you of your capabilities are the absolute worst and the most distressing. Be it progressive memory loss as in dementia and Alzheimer’s, or slowly losing touch of your cognition as in Parkinsonism. But there’s always a silver ling, a hope. If diagnosed in the early stages, the progression of these diseases can effectively be slowed down if not completely halted. Parkinsonism is one such disease that, if detected early on, can be appropriately managed with the support of your family and a good doctor.
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by progressive neurological disorder that particularly affects movement, cognition and speech. A course tremor is characteristic of this disease as well as a small-stepped gait, rigid muscles and soft speech.
What causes Parkinsonism? Probably your genetic makeup with a little input of some toxic environmental triggers. The core problematic area in this disease is the basal ganglia in your brain that has an increased quantity of a certain protein accumulate, Lewy Bodies. Fortunately, with the marvelous advances in modern medicine, several medicines exist to improve the symptoms of a patient with Parkinsonism. There is no cure, however.
If someone you know is showing signs of Parkinsonism (mostly over the age of 60), get them to check in with their physician. The sooner the disease is diagnosed, the better the prognosis will be for them.
Statistics have shown that about 500,000 children in the US alone are victims of cerebral palsy – a debilitating group of neurological disorders that keeps a child from leading a normal life. The prime manifestations of this disease are impaired muscle movement and motor skills along with secondary disabilities that affect vision, mental health, learning, hearing and speech.
With such a high prevalence rate of cerebral palsy, it’s important to illustrate the true cause of this disease. Most children with cerebral palsy have undergone some sort of brain damage. This could have occurred during birth or in the first five years of his or her life. Brain trauma is, thus, the main etiological cause of cerebral palsy. Premature babies, lead poisoning, and meningitis are other causes that may result in a case of cerebral palsy.
Without getting into too much detail of the different types of cerebral palsies, it’s more important to know what you can do if your child has been diagnosed with it. It’s important to approach this disease and its outcomes with a strong, open mind since it is a lifelong impairing disease.
Currently no cure for cerebral palsy exists but the symptoms of this disorder can be minimized by the appropriate medication. Children with cerebral palsy commonly require special equipment and therapy to improve their quality of life.
As we approach the end of Ramadan and still try to guess when exactly Eid is, let’s try and make this Eid beautiful not only for ourselves but also for others around us by knowing what not to say.
None of us mean to say the wrong thing but sometimes we just do especially when we meet our extended family after several months. Sometimes we meet new faces as families expand, or even unexpected guests. Now that I am older, I also see myself sometimes passing the irritating comment, ‘Arey masha allah tum kitney Barry ho gaye.’ It happens to everyone. We often end up asking questions that seem entirely innocent to us but can hurt and/or irritate the other person emotionally.
In the list below I share some of the questions that are not as polite as we might think they are.
What not to ask people this Eid ul Fitr or any other party?
- Do not ask anyone when they are getting married. People might be looking aggressively for an appropriate rishta and sometimes finding a suitable rishta is not easy. And no, it’s not suitable to tell them about certain single women who you think might be extremely lonely. There is no point in showing the grim side of not being married. Sometimes, they do not want to get married any time soon and they have other plans. At times it gets so infuriating that many young adults do not want to join their family during ‘House hopping’.
- Do not ask others when they might be having kids. Infertility issues, miscarriages or sometimes just not planning a child might be the reason for a couple not having a child. Other people reproductive health and decisions are none of your business. You don’t know who is dealing with infertility or grieving miscarriages or struggling with health issues. You don’t know who is having relationship issues or who might not be in a position to have their ‘next’ child straight away. You don’t know your seemingly innocent question might cause some people grief, pain or stress. This is one question you must stay away from.
- Do not comment on anyone’s weight. You can simply say, ‘It’s so good to see you.’ We will surely meet someone who might lost a bit too much weight or someone who has drastically gained a lot of weight. Weight is sometimes not just about being lazy or over indulgence. Whether you believe it or not, it’s not necessary at all to tell someone about how bad they look due to their weight. They probably do have mirrors at home and know exactly how they look. Their weight is their business. Some people are confident and secure in whatever their weight may be. Some people are struggling. So it’s best to avoid any conversation that revolves around weight.
- If you meet a young child, do not ask them who their favourite family member is or who they love most. Love is a huge word and it’s meaning can’t possibly be understood by a young child. Also do not force them to eat something. Nut/gluten allergies are more common than you might think so let the parents choose what they want their kids to eat.
- This one is also a basic etiquette that you must have when meeting a young child. Do not say, ‘hug/kiss me and I will give you a treat.’ Please do not invade a child’s private space. They are still learning about trust and do not tell the child that its alright to bribe for certain ‘favours’
So yea, that’s about it. Sometimes empathy is more important than anything else. And the best thing about it is that it doesn’t cost anything.
I recently watched a TV show called ‘The Good Doctor’ – a story of an autistic medical resident with supernormal intelligence. The show highlighted the challenges and prejudices the young doctor had to face in his field because of his conditions. Lucky for him, his genius mind made things easier for him.
The truth, however, is slightly different. Not all children born with autism are so lucky.
Autism is a group of disorders that affect a child’s ability to socialize, empathize and communicate with those around him. Social, speech and behavioral problems make it difficult for autistic children to cope with the ever-changing tides of the society.
Although seldom seen (or perhaps diagnosed) in Pakistan, the condition requires attentions and knowledge to improve the child’s life. The Autism Society of Pakistan estimates a total of 350k autistic children in the country.
The important question is: is there a cure? Like most mental illnesses, there is no complete treatment for autism. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
With proper therapy and intervention, the burden of social challenges these children face can be minimized. It’s important to realize that treatment options for autistic children not only include their personal therapy but also the education of the people around him so that he is treated with greater kindness and understanding. A major problem autistic children face is bullying in schools which makes the disorder even more stressful.
If you know a child with autism, make sure he is brought to medical attention and not hidden away as an ‘abnormal’ child as is mostly done in the country. With therapy and the support of loved ones, autism can be less of a nightmare for both the child and his family.
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Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to one day wake up and forget the name of your cat? Memory loss or dementia with increasing age is a common condition; one that affects a good percentage of people.
But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Dementia includes a set of symptoms associated the memory building, recollection and thinking process. A term familiar with dementia is the Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a neurological disorder that affects old people and is characterized by severe dementia. Another type of dementia called the vascular dementia occurs after an episode of a stroke.
Contrary to popular belief or what you see on TV, dementia isn’t only related to slowly deteriorating memory or forgetting the names and identities of your own children. The condition begins and progresses slowly. It affects not only the memory but also communication, judgment and your ability to focus.
The early stages of dementia are usually seen as a case of short-term memory loss that slowly progresses into a distressing long-term memory loss altogether in old age. If someone around you has been showing symptoms of declining memory, it’s important to recognize it and talk to the doctor. While dementia is not treatable in its essence, an underlying condition that might be causing the derangement of the memory building process may be corrected.