Elderly Improve Health by Reading & Mind Games
As the elderly population continues to grow, scientists seek innovative ways to treat diseases of old age. Proper diet, exercise & thinking activities may slow dementia.
Caregivers have more ammunition to help an elderly parent or loved one in the fight against Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Boosting brainpower – engaging in cognitive skills – helps the brain build resistance that may slow the disease. Just as physical exercise improves circulation, mental exercise strengthens the mind.
Mental Exercise May Slow the Progression of Alzheimer's
Reading, solving word puzzles, and taking part in intellectual conversation may slow the effects of memory loss. An active brain is better equipped to resist disease. Increased blood flow from both physical and mental exercise improves the connections among nerve cells.
According to Robert Friedland, MD., in a submission to the book, The World's Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets (Bottom Line Books, 2008), "A seven-year study of 2,000 people over age 65 found that those who engaged in high levels of reading, physical exercise or just talking with friends reduced their risk of Alzheimer's by 38%."
Encourage Elderly Persons to Engage in Cognitive Skills
Looking for a Christmas gift for an elderly person? Need a few gift ideas for an elderly loved one's birthday? Try card games, board games, and word puzzle books. No longer considered just a way to pass the time, games such as chess, bridge, scrabble, checkers, and even trivia games stimulate the brain.
If games don't appeal to the aging person, then reading material might do the trick. Publications such as National Geographic, Reader's Digest, and Time, are just a few magazines that teach current events or invoke thoughts on popular topics. Other ideas to stimulate thinking: Get involved in a local political event or learn a new language.
Can playing cards really help reduce the effects of dementia and memory loss diseases? In an article titled, "Playing Their Cards Right: Bridge Helps Seniors in Bid to Stay Focused" published by the Santa Rosa Free Press (Milton, FL, Dec. 2, 2009) journalist Jane Glenn Haas refers to Frank LaFerla, head of UCI MIND (University of California, Irvine), a clinical and research center studying Alzheimer's disease.
According to Haas, "LaFerla says a combination of social interaction, such as joining a bridge club, and mental stimulation seems to slow down the course of the disease." Haas also states, "LaFerla, 46, is trying to keep himself in the game by playing computer games, doing Sudoku and crossword puzzles, going to the gym and playing golf and tennis."
Alzheimer's Patients Benefit From Social Activities
Want to help the caregiver of a family member who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, memory loss, or some other form of dementia? Find out where senior groups meet and suggest the elder join a bridge club and socialize with other elders. Take the elderly person out for a night of stimulating conversation. The physical act of getting out and engaging in conversation where a senior has to think and respond to another person keeps the brain active.
Jenna Goudreau, who contributed an article titled "Why Socializing Makes You Smarter ..." in Ladies' Home Journal published in August 2008, states that, "Socializing not only increases your short-term smarts but builds improved longer-term cognitive abilities. Though face time is best, researchers speculate you can still reap some of the rewards via phone or email."
Mental Exercise and Socializing to Prevent Old Age Memory Loss
Physical exercise, diet, and mental activity all work together to increase and improve blood circulation to the brain. Mental exercise also improves the connections among nerve cells, preventing – or at least slowing the effects of – cognitive decline. Does socializing have significant value in preserving memory performance?
Diane Swanbrow from the University of Michigan submitted an online article in October 2002, titled, "Schmoozing is Good for the Brain, U-M Study Suggests". Swanbrow quotes U-M psychologist Oscar Ybarra who believes there is a working connection between academic learning and socializing: "Most advice for preserving and enhancing mental function emphasizes intellectual activities such as reading, doing crossword puzzles, and learning how to use a computer. But my research suggests that just getting together and chatting with friends and family may also be effective."
Caregivers Encourage Seniors to Stay Active to Stay Healthy
Caregivers for elderly persons often feel helpless when a loved one is at risk of, or has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, memory loss, or some other form of dementia. New sources of information indicate cognitive skills and socializing improve mental focus.
Physical exercise, proper diet, mental stimulation, and socializing all contribute to better health at any age. Never before has it been so important to keep learning and stay active even beyond the age of retirement. Old age is no longer a time to sit back and watch the world go by, but is instead a time to learn new skills, participate in social activities and engage in physical exercise.
Thinking and socializing improve the quality of life for the elderly loved one and for the caregiver. Physical and mental exercise aid in blood circulation, increase oxygen to the body – especially the brain – and appear to slow down the deterioration cause by Alzheimer's. In any case, caregivers now have new and enjoyable methods at their disposal to help fight the diseases of dementia.