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How Are Your Executive Functions? -by Judy Hensley

Posted Sep 17 2012 12:27am


Judy Hensley
Expert: Executive Functions

I assisted my good PD friend, Peggy, today at a presentation she was making to a local gathering of people concerned with aging. I think I was invited because she knows I like playing the techno geek (and she needed one this day!). Like I always say ….working for Peggy, the pay is nill, but the company makes up for it! As usual she had an outstanding and an active audience participatory presentation on keeping your brain active and being a Brainiac. One reason she is so good at this is because she was and is still a teacher (just now to a  little slower, none  the less to a different crew besides kids –that is people with PD).


As Peggy was describing some changes in our brain typically due to aging (or some other neuro illnesses such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, et al) she had a slide showing some ‘executive functions’ affected by cognitive decline due to age, illnesses, etc. On the slide there were 8 activities that are compromised when your brain starts it’s imminent decline due to age or illness. I was thinking ..I should be president of this disorder, I’m 46 years old and have problems with all 8 activities. It was kind of like a big “oh no” ran thru my head (which now must have little or no good grey matter to slow this thought down). Actually, it was more like this thought….” oh $#%@, not only has PD made my movements slow and unstable, it’s making my control system of my ‘executive function’ go into a critical nosedive.

Just to let you know and see if you have a lot of these problems…take a look at the list: change in inhibition, planning, time perception (yeah, i thought this was going to be a quicky blog), internal ordering (i think this means a good priority system?), motivation, working memory (been without that even before PD), regulation of emotion, and multitasking. Hey, if I went into great detail on my personal changes for each category, in a blog each day for each, I’d have 8 days of blogs I think might get a little

bit depressing, so I’m going to spare you…just not completely.

So how do you fair on the list of ‘executive functions’ you have difficulty with? For me, the physical problems of PD are frustrating, but these cognitive functioning problems hurt mostly my pride and outlook on how I’ll be able to cope emotionally with PD. I think in my next blog, I’ll share with you some of my greatest frustrations due to how PD has affected me and my brain. It’s one of those ‘nitty gritty’ things to discuss, but I think I can find a silver lining to go with it as well. So stay tuned, but until then, use your noggin in some good ways to keep it in shape….work a puzzle and play some (it’s Wi time here). And if you feel like it, share with us how you handle some of these deficiencies!

~ Judy

Originally posted on 4/28/09

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