Everyone gets older; it’s an inevitable part of life. In order to delay the effects of aging, many of us apply creams, get facials, and even plastic surgery to look and feel younger. But what happens when our minds start to go? Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and affects millions of Americans. Marked by a progressive loss of memory, it can be debilitating for patients as well as their loved ones. It remains one of the most feared conditions in geriatrics. It is insidious and incurable. Yet, the question remains: is it preventable?
It may be helpful to define the causes that lead to Alzheimer’s. Dementia is a significant loss of intellectual and memory capacity to such a degree that it impairs daily function. Those who suffer from geriatric dementia often are restricted to home care and even basic daily routine becomes impossible. However, there may be a solution or at least a chance to mitigate the more severe aspects of the disease.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, certain leisure activities have been shown to reduce the risk of dementia and related maladies. Dancing, board games, reading, and playing musical instruments are among the leading activities that have demonstrated a high correlation in the reduction of dementia cases. These types of mind engagement tasks increase blood flow and enhance the building of neural pathways; a key factor in reducing the risk of dementia. Not only will games, instruments, and dancing help increase mental acuity it will also increase the quality of life. After all, these are fun things to do!
As with any disease, preventing Alzheimer’s is a little more complex than taking up Monopoly or the guitar. Further studies are required to assess other factors such as the environment, genetic medical history, and lifestyle choices. But, the evidence derived from existing research is very clear: effortful mental exercises greatly reduce the chances of developing; and the effects of dementia illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
So, you’re not worries about it right now because you are younger? You can start now! Engage your mind while you are young and chances are you will retain more of it in your twilight years; and, that is a good prescription for anyone.