Dementia is a syndrome that leads to the deterioration of cognitive functions.
While it mostly affects older people, dementia can affect people of any age.
At present, according to the World Health Organization, over 55 million people around the world live with dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.
Common symptoms in the early stages of dementia include forgetfulness, becoming lost in familiar places, and losing track of time, while in later stages, symptoms can include forgetting recent events and people’s names, becoming confused at home, and finding it difficult to communicate.
While there are ways of supporting people with dementia, there’s currently no cure.
Though, more and more studies are starting to show that by engaging in cognitive activities, people can slow the progression of dementia.
So, let’s take a look at three of those cognitive activities.
The Relationship Between Cognitive Activity and the Onset of Alzheimer’s Disease
A recent study by scientists at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center investigated the relationship between levels of cognitive activity and age and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for around 60% to 70% of dementia cases.
The study results suggested that a cognitively active lifestyle can help to delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders by several years.
Previous studies have suggested similar things, but the Rush University Medical Center study found that the three specific cognitive activities of reading, writing, and playing games can delay Alzheimer’s disease by up to five years.
Reading involves using basic cognitive skills that enable the brain to take in and process information.
In turn, that means regular reading can help people to maintain cognitive functions like memory, organizing information, and paying attention.
The good news is that most of us read every day because we use the internet and communicate with people via texts and emails.
But to improve your cognitive function more and potentially reduce the onset of dementia, make sure you always have a good book on the go.
Similarly, we all spend time writing via emails, texts, and so on these days, and writing has the same cognitive benefits as reading.
But the more you spend time focused on writing something of detail and to which you’ve given a lot of thought, the more you can potentially improve your cognitive function and slow the progression of dementia.
So, consider engaging in creative writing or freewriting.
Alternatively, you could start a blog about your passion – be it a sports team or the history of engines.
3. Playing Games
Playing any kind of game can help to delay the onset of dementia and slow its progression.
So, whether you enjoy playing card games, board games, or video games, or completing crosswords, sudoku, or online brainteasers, you can keep your cognitive functions in good shape and hopefully stave off dementia.
While there’s no cure for dementia at present, some anti-dementia medications and disease-modifying therapies are available for Alzheimer’s disease, though they have limited efficacy.
Multiple new treatments are currently being investigated.
Furthermore, there are ways in which people can help their dementia naturally.
For example, natural remedies for dementia include maintaining a balanced diet, regularly engaging in physical activity – especially aerobics exercises – and getting better sleep.
Things like acupuncture, bright light therapy, and aromatherapy could also potentially help.
In addition to engaging with cognitive activities like reading, writing, and playing games, studies suggest that you could reduce the risk of cognitive decline and getting dementia by:
- Avoiding alcohol and tobacco;
- Controlling your weight;
- Staying physically active;
- Eating healthily;
- Maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Engaging your mind with cognitive activities and living healthily can potentially help you to prevent the onset of dementia.
While there is no confirmed treatment for dementia today, prevention and self care is something we can do today.