No less than three major studies have produced overwhelming evidence that stimulating the brain -- doing brain exercises -- helps us fight off potential dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.

From "People who regularly do intellectual activities throughout life have stronger thinking abilities. This may give them a reserve of thinking skills, which may protect them against losses that can occur through ageing and disease."

The website puts it like this: "New studies show that increased participation in social, mental and physical activities is linked to a slower rate of cognitive decline in older adults. This research shows a “dose-response” relationship, where the more activities we do, the slower the rate of decline becomes."

Activities like: puzzles, games and quizzes, reading or even adding up your shopping bill in your head as you go around the supermarket.

From "Exercising the brain is an important, enjoyable part of everyday life for everyone. It has a part to play in a positive, healthy lifestyle in the same way as physical exercise. Stimulating leisure and social activities are also thought to be important in maintaining a healthy brain."

Locally, Utah Tech in St. George has an exciting program that many may not know about, although it's been around for a very long time.

The Institute For Continued Learning, specifically geared toward seniors and those who want to stimulate their brains near or after retirement, offers dozens of classes for a nominal fee ($55 per semester and you can take as many classes as you want).

The classes are taught by industry professionals in the subject area, most of them retired as well,

You can click on this link to see the list of classes, but a small sampling includes Art History, Journaling Techniques, Constellations (astronomy), Creative Writing, Evolution of Radio, Photography, History of Utah, Italian Cooking, Mark Twain, Bellydancing, Philosophy, Shakespeare, Tennis, and Traveling the World with KDXU contributor Gary Sorensen -- as well as dozens more.

Most of the classes take place during the day, perfect for the retired set, although some classes are at night.

It's the perfect place to stimulate the brain.

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Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy In Utah: Expert Advice For Parents

Concept photo about the possible threat of vaccination
Mr. Ilkin

Southwest Utah Public Health Officer Dr. David Blodgett is not one to mince words, especially when it comes to vaccines.

"They saved the world, all but eliminated some deadly diseases and increased life expectancy all over the modern world," he said recently on the Andy Griffin Show.

That's why Blodgett and other health professionals are extremely frustrated in the recent trend to not get children vaccinated.

As many as 40 percent of children are not getting immunized in recent times in the United States for basic childhood diseases -- pertussis, chicken pox, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis, measles, mumps, rubella and many others.

Why not? Well, that's complicated.

There's the usual group of anti-vaxxers, who have erroneously blamed immunizations for autism, compromised immune systems and toxins in the blood system. But that group makes up less than five percent of the total.

The reason the other 35 percent of parents haven't immunized their kids range from paranoia, apathy or a mistrust of vaccines after the low success numbers from the Covid-19 vaccines.

From the website

"There are now hundreds of anti-vaccine websites, each amplified by social media, causing some to call the spread of extreme views a “cultural epidemic.” The cumulative effect of the controversy and confusion generated can make it difficult for parents to understand the facts and to make well-informed decisions for their children."

In other words, anti-vaxxers are stripping away the facts and using emotion to gain followers.

When I was young, measles, mumps, chicken pox and even polio to a lesser degree were still quite common.

These seemed like relatively harmless diseases at the time, but looking back at the statistics can bring a sobering reality.

  • Before 1963, when the measles vaccine became widely available, about 6,000 people (mostly children) died every year from the disease. In 1978, measles was declared eradicated from the United States. Not one vaccinated person died from measles that year.
  • Diphtheria killed 15,000-20,000 people a year in the United States before the vaccine. Since 2004, there have been no cases of diphtheria in the USA among vaccinated people.
  • Mumps was deadly before 1968, with the mortality rate of those infected averaging about 2-4 deaths per 10,000 people (so 20 to 40 deaths in a city the size of St. George). Since the modern vaccine, in 2017, there were 5,629 cases of mumps in the US, down from 186,000 pre-vaccine.
  • Chicken pox was extremely common 30 years ago and killed an average of 150 people a year. Now, about 30 people a year die from chicken pox.
  • Today, less than 10 people in the United States are reported to have rubella and it is usually associated with travel and not being vaccinated. During the last major rubella epidemic in the United States from 1964 to 1965, an estimated 12.5 million people got rubella, 11,000 pregnant women lost their babies and 2,100 newborns died of the disease.
  • Tetanus is uncommon in the United States, with an average of 30 reported cases each year. In 1950 (pre-vaccine), tetanus killed nearly 600 Americans.
  • Polio vaccine was licensed in the United States in 1955. During 1951-1954, an average of 16,316 paralytic polio cases and 6,600 deaths from polio were reported each year. Since 1988, more than 18 million people can walk today who would otherwise have been paralyzed, and 1.5 million childhood deaths have been averted thanks to the polio vaccine.

To put it succinctly: "The facts are simple: Vaccines are safe. They are highly effective. They are supported by every major American medical society and government agency and are a routine part of pediatric care." --- Children's Defense Fund.

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The Impact Of Marijuana Legalization: Utah Must Learn From Colorado And Oregon

Photo by manish panghal on Unsplash
Photo by manish panghal on Unsplash

Currently, cannabis with THC (AKA, marijuana) is legal in Utah if the person possessing the drug has a medical prescription for it.

From Wiki:

"In February 2018, the Utah House of Representatives passed HB 195, a bill to legalize the "right to try" and grow medical marijuana plants for terminally ill patients. On March 7, the bill was passed "easily" by the state senate, and on March 21, the governor signed it into law. On November 6, 2018, The Utah Medical Cannabis Act was passed as ballot Proposition 2. Provisions must be set by the state for dispensaries to open by January 2021. On December 3, 2018, the Utah Legislature passed HB3001, amending the Utah Medical Cannabis Act as passed through Proposition 2. The Governor signed HB3001 into law later the same day, causing it to go into immediate effect.

Essentially, the only people allowed to possess cannabis or THC are those with a prescription from a medical professional, presumably granted to help the patient in end-of-;life (terminal) situations.

And while Utah and about half of the other states in the USA are sticking with this stance, there are many other states that have legalized the drug for recreational use.-- 25 in all.

Our neighbor to the east, Colorado, legalized recreational marijuana and immediately saw an increase in violent crime and property crime. Hey, it might be legal, but it's not cheap.

But Oregon lawmakers, perhaps while smoking some of that Wacky Weed, have taken it a step further.

The Beaver State recently passed laws that make it legal to possess a "small" or "personal" amount of cocaine, heroin or amphetamines.

So apparently in Oregon, they're OK if you use those drugs, you're just not allowed to sell them.

After the recent legislation, a number of the eastern counties in Oregon reiterated their desire to secede from the state and join the more conservative Idaho.

So if the proven facts of higher crime, and cancer-causing chemicals in THC don't deter Oregon, apparently they also have no problem with addiction, convulsions/seizures, coma, brain damage, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, lung damage and myriad other side effects of cocaine, heroin and meth.

In the past year, an alarming number of "tent cities," human feces on the streets, discarded hypodermic needles and broken glass have also cropped up in the Beaver State.

Oregon is breaking new ground, for sure. But that new broken ground will likely be needed for cemetery plots.

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Grading Utah: Poverty A+, Education B, But Utah Fails At This ...

Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash
Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash

Governor Spencer J. Cox recently flooded social media with a bit of a pride boast.

In his Instagram, Facebook and X posts, he touts the great advantages of living in the state of Utah.

Utah receives high grades for low poverty (second in the nation to only Vermont), high charitable contributions, a humming economy and the lowest unemployment rate in America.

But one area Cox fails to mention is Utah's wage/housing discrepancy.

On average, a full-time worker in the state of Utah makes $49,306 a year, ranking the Beehive State as 45th out of our 50 states.

Shift over to the average price of a single-family dwelling in the state, $588,862, and you can see the wage/housing price difference is staggering.

It's simple math. If a family has two working adults who both have full-time jobs, they'll draw a little under $99,000 a year.

To purchase a home with 10 percent down (that's a staggering $59,000), the housing payment at the current interest rate of 7.5 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage would be $3,412 a month.

Back to the working couple: at $99,000 a year, minus about $25,000 in taxes, leaves them with about $6,166 a month to try and get a house.

If they bring home $6,100, but need $3,400 for a house payment, well that just doesn't work.

No bank in the world would touch a couple with a 56-percent debt ratio.

So, yes, I am very proud to live in this gorgeous state with epic views, world-class outdoor sports and a big heart that takes care of the less fortunate.

But when it comes to getting our young families a place to live, Utah fails with a capital "F."

Utah rankings:

  • Poverty Ratio -- No. 2 in the nation -- A+
  • Charitable contributions -- No. 1 in the nation -- A+
  • Unemployment -- No. 1 in the nation -- A+
  • Happiness quotient -- No. 1  in the nation -- A+
  • Economic outlook -- No. 1  in the nation -- A+
  • Health insurance coverage -- No. 2  in the nation -- A+
  • Women's equality -- No. 50 (out of 50)  in the nation -- F
  • Median income -- No. 45  in the nation -- D-
  • Housing affordability -- No. 42  in the nation -- D
  • Air quality -- No. 45 in the nation -- D
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Loneliness Epidemic: Tragic Incident In American Fork Highlights The Issue

Photo by Breno Assis on Unsplash
Photo by Breno Assis on Unsplash

Don't know if you saw this story from the other day, but it makes me sad:

(American Fork, UT)  --  Authorities say an elderly couple was found dead inside an American Fork home after a welfare check.  Neighbors said they hadn't seen the couple since November, so police conducted a check at the home on North Center Street.  Police say it's difficult to know what happened to the bodies due to their state of decomposition, but added that their deaths appeared to be suspicious.  The couple's names haven't been released yet.

Of course it is sad that this older couple passed away, especially if they find that there was foul play involved.

But what makes the story even more sad is the fact that nobody thought to check on the older couple for more than a month (maybe two).

Did they not have any kids or grandkids? Were they members of their local church community? Did they have any friends or loved ones that wondered about them?

We should take this as a lesson.

According to statistics compiled by Meta-Gallup, one in four adults feels lonely often. More than half of people surveyed admitted to feeling lonely at least occasionally.

United States Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy warns that "Loneliness and isolation represent profound threats to our health and well-being."

Murthy counters that with the idea that we each have the power to combat this epidemic of loneliness: "We have the power to respond. By taking small steps every day to strengthen our relationships, and by supporting community efforts to rebuild social connection, we can rise to meet this moment together. We can build lives and communities that are healthier and happier. And we can ensure our country and the world are better poised than ever to take on the challenges that lay ahead. Our future depends on what we do today."

There's a cool website called Love For Our Elders that is just one of many charities out there trying to make a difference, with their idea being to write letters to the lonely.

See if you can make a difference today!

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