Dr. Sandeep Grewal of Rock Hill is not a good patient.
He doesn’t follow his own advice.
He is active, writing books and developing smart phone apps.
The activities challenge the brain – the thing he advocates against in his new book, “Dementia Express: Lose Your Memory in 100 Ways.”
The brain, Grewal said, “is a lazy and selfish organ.”
If you don’t push it, the brain will do minimal work and shut down memory sectors, he said.
But if you write books, create apps, or do simple things such as climb stairs, read newspapers, or remember phone numbers, the brain is stimulated.
“The human body is like a butler to the brain,” he said. “It caters to all its whims and fancies, the more you use a part of the body – the brain is no exception – the more resources are allocated to it.
“Creativity is the enemy of memory loss.”
Grewal admits his approach in “Dementia Express” is unusual. The book is written from a negative perspective – all the things you can do to hasten memory loss and dementia.
He used the negative approach because the “brain pays more attention to bad advice.” Had he adopted a more serious, medical tone, no one would have read the book, he said. Simplicity in tone and ideas was his goal.
A trip from York to Lake Wylie to watch holiday fireworks prompted the book.
Grewal said he relied on his brain, and not his GPS, to navigate. He became upset and nervous when the trip became more difficult than anticipated.
Grewal, a doctor in internal medicine and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Piedmont Medical Center, realized how dependent he had become on his GPS. The navigating section of his brain had shut down.
His patients had a role too. He listened to them talk about their forgetfulness.
“Dementia Express” took more than two years to write. There was writing, editing, rewriting, listening to patients, and then writer’s block, he said.
He took a break and returned to the project, again talking with his patients.
“I wanted fresh ideas,” he said.
The result is an 118-page book that’s designed to be picked up and put down.
Generally, there is a tip per page on how to lose your mind, then a “brain buster” to designed to stimulate the mind.
Advice offered includes:
• Television. Never watch more than two hours a day and never in the morning.
“It will dull you for the rest of the day,” he writes. “Treat your morning-fresh brain with something intellectual and stimulating.”
• Technology. Don’t rely on GPS, or caller ID, or automatic dialing.
“The brain never gets stressed out, never gets exercise,” using such technologies, he writes. Recall phone numbers, read maps, remember key dates such as birthdays.
• Reading, writing and arithmetic. If you want to lose your mind, burn all the newspapers and books, he writes.
“A newspaper makes you aware of the world around you, it makes you aware of the calendar date. It takes you to places you have never been and helps you imagine how an event might have occurred. … News stimulates debate, arguments and critical thinking. … News is food for your brain.”
As for arithmetic, he suggested checking the cash register tape to make sure everything is correct by doing the math in your head.
• Love. “It is almost like rebooting the brain,” he writes.
Grewal also promotes flirting because “it requires a lot of mental energy. What is the other person thinking? What is the other person thinking? How do you get his or her attention?”
If people remember five to 10 of the tips he offers, Grewal said the book will been a success.
Grewal is not adverse to all technology. Properly used technology can improve health care, he said. The problem is that many doctors are not tech savvy and put technology decisions in the hands of nonmedical people.
Grewal’s technology forays include OTC Plus, a smartphone app that can be used to help find over-the-counter medications.
The app has a disclaimer, urging people to talk with a doctor before taking any medication.
Grewal said the idea for the app, like his book, came from patients. They would call the office wanting to know what to take for coughs and colds.
The first screen of OTC Plus lists a variety of common symptoms. A click takes views to various medicines with information on uses and cautions about their use and possible side effects.
Grewal said he knew the app was a success when his brother, Amardeep, called from Atlanta after using it.
“He said, ‘I found my medicine, I don’t need you anymore,” Grewal said.
The app also has a function that allows users to print discount coupons.
In the works is a co-pay app that would list companies that offer assistance to people who can’t afford to pay for their prescribed medicines.
His ultimate tech goal is text-to-text medical advice between physician and patient. Liability and privacy issues must be addressed for that to happen he said. But, “Eventually it will happen.”
Don Worthington firstname.lastname@example.org