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Keeping the mind sharp…|
We mostly hear about the brain’s decline with age and the onset of dementia; nerve cells die and portions of the brain shrink, causing loss of memory and problems with other thinking functions. Researchers have made encouraging findings. It has been believed that the brain could not develop new cells, but in the past few years, they found the brain to be pliable and adaptive. The brain can actually add new neurons, even late in life and form new connections.
This means that an aging brain, with signs of damage, can often compensate for that damage, at least initially. Engaging in mental stimulus like reading, board games or computer games is one way to bolster this process.
The compensation will depend on your “cognitive reserve”, that is the amount of cognitive ability you had before signs of dementia. In other words, I guess you could say, the abilities that you had before diagnosis can be restored. Genetics, early childhood development and education level can influence the reserve and are essentially unchanged once you are an adult.
Fortunately, research has found that you can increase your reserve and delay the progression of dementia by a variety of intellectual stimulating leisure activities. In studies, among 101 with dementia, those who participated in one or more activities such as reading, writing, crosswords, card or board games, group discussions or playing music experienced memory decline later than those who did not.
Activities you genuinely enjoy of course would be the best since you already engage in them and won’t need prodding. Adding others would only be a bonus.
Card games, board games and jigsaws…can stimulate as well as advance…they also can be pursued in a group, making it a social event.
Gardening, planting and yard care are a great combination of physical and mental, while enjoying the outdoors. An added bonus is the result of your work, not instant gratification but watching the growth and having a harvest of better foods and a healthy diet keeps dementia at bay …
Reading….keeps the mind itself active…reading to others makes it a group/social event
Pets…..great companions, and ease the mind from stress. If living in ALF’s find out about bringing animals in…the best medicine…the comfort and love of an animal
Cooking…mentally stimulating especially a new recipe…cooking with others…another social affair
Artistic pursuits…painting, drawing, sculpting, photography or hand crafts let you use your brain in a more creative way.
Internet searching….triggers activity in key areas of the brain involving complex reasoning….
Internet games....there are so many free game site out there these days getting to them is easy. Memory games, card games, Bingo and hidden object games help keep the mind sharp.
Volunteering….Older adults who volunteered with young school children had increased activity in areas of the brain responsible for higher learning.
Theater, museums, concerts and lectures…challenge your mind with new sights, sounds and perspectives.
Home improvement…. Even as simple as replacing the outside plate on a light switch stimulates your mind.
Writing fiction, poetry, memoirs….even a letter is mentally stimulating and can be undertaken by most…
TURN OFF THE TV…..a 2006 study found that those who just watched TV were more likely to experience dramatic cognitive impairment. A possible explanation: Time spent in front of the TV means less time for the mental, social, and physical activities that help delay dementia…
Next, I will get into promoting these ideas with a person who has physical limitations. We have used them all and I am here to tell you that IF the person is willing, these do work to slow the progression as well as bring back some cognitive functions.
I particularly like this entry. I wonder if they did any categorization of the TYPES of television watched. I would think that game shows on tv, i.e., "Jeopardy," "Are you smarter than a 4th grader," "Whell of Fortune," etc., that challenge the mind would NOT be detrimental, as we enjoy these games and feel they help our minds!|
We try to play dominoes or cards every night. I, too, feel they help.
THe study in 2006 did not include educational or game shows or even PBS. The study was based on regular TV programming, non-interacting shows. |
The feeling I get from most of the research i read seems to be that being "social" is very important to the minds strength. Whether it be small or large gatherings, online or in person, socializing of some kind is mentioned in all the studies regarding keeping the mind sharp.
I have found over the last almost 4 years that a lot of PD people shut themselves off due to the outward appearances of the disease. It's no wonder depression and dementia are 2 of the hardest to overcome for PDers. Not only do they shut themselves off, but some caregivers not knowing what all it encompasses, shut them off too. Not on purpose but shield them from what might be a little extra work on their part to push for socializing.
|I've noticed with my MIL that the game shows as mentioned and PBS stir her up more and she actually gets much better. Well that was before her recent 9 day trip to the hospital with kidney problems. I fear that this recent is another step down in her progression. Her dimentia certainly had progressed. Last weekend she convinced the dr to call and support her claims that she was dying. I ran over and stayed for a few hours and it was just her wanting someone to be with her. I came home and my folks called the hospital and she swore I was not there. Well my honey came home from a trip and late in the afternoon went to the hospital. A couple hours later she called and asked when someone was coming to visit. That just validated my story from Saturday. I hate that it's happening but it also gives me reassurance that I'M not going crazy.|