is the most common type of dementia and accounts for an estimated 60 to 80
percent of dementia cases. Scientists report that 3 out of 4 seniors
will develop Alzheimer's as they advance in age. That leaves 1 out of
4 that will keep their cognitive skills in the later years of their life.
The good news is that you can make a difference.
Back in 1909 a scientist damaged the retina in his eye
and the optic sensors in his eye could not communicate with his brain.
As time passed, his natural tendency was to stimulate the sensors as he
tried to focus on things and eventually he developed new connections with
the brain and regained his eyesight.
experience lead scientists at Rockefeller University to repeat the
experiment in animals and found that the brain, in adulthood and older age,
can rewire itself with proper stimulation. They found the brain made new
connections to healthy sensory cells and the animals regained their sight.
Scientists at Rockefeller University theorize that the
body and brain developed this trait to help people recover from damage to
the brain. They discovered that the brain can change circuits to change functional
properties of brain cells. They say it is such a good adaptive device that the brain
uses the same mechanism of repair to construct memory. It does require
stimulation for both memory and repair to occur.
Scientists have noted that few millionaires develop
dementia because it requires education and resources to make and keep that
kind of money. K. Warner Shaie performed a study in 1956 that examined
5000 people aged twenty to more than ninety, He reported that
Intellectual decline varies widely depending upon whether people let their
minds loaf or keep them busy. One out of four eighty-year-olds are as
bright as they've always been.
On the other
hand, couch potatoes are the quickest to slip into intellectual limbo.
The danger starts when people retire, decide to take things easy, and say
they don't have to keep up with the world anymore.
Recently 60 Minutes interviewed a group of 90
year-olds at Leisure World Laguna Beach. These same people had been
studied 30 years earlier and an extensive database existed about these
individuals. The 90 year-olds today are the survivors of this very
large group and they had unique traits in common. These traits are:
tend to be over weight, but not obese. The extra weight may be insurance
for when they get ill.
tend to have one or two cocktails a day.
They tend to have higher than average blood
They were socially active.
They exercised 45 minutes a day. Exercise
of 3 hours did not provide additional benefit. The exercise could be split
into several different time slots during the day, it was not important to
do it all at once. They could include some gardening, shopping and a
If we use the exercise lessons of 45 minutes a
day as a guideline, and add another 45 minutes of intellectual challenges during the day,
it is suspected we can ward off many, if not all, dementia problems.
For do's and don'ts of intellectual challenges, the following ideas are
Learn new things like gardening,
computers, languages, hobbies.
Write letters and express yourself.
Write a book. Write poetry.
Write trivia questions, and read and
answer others trivia questions. You can get a nightly
set of new trivia questions at Yahoo Groups - Insomniac-Net
Work crossword puzzles, or
Develop a home based business.
Sell used books/CDs/DVDs and items
on Amazon or eBay.
Play a musical
instrument, sing in a choral/choir
Cook new foods and desserts.
Learn Amateur Radio.
Volunteer at the local hospital,
church, club, school.
Get involved in local
Make and sell jewelry at local
Go to estate sales and buy things
you can resell.
Sell Real Estate.
Start scrap booking
Have a yard sale, or sell at swap
Join a local group of artists/crafters and
network with them.
Study finance and learn about the
stock market. Manage your own money
Spend time with grand children, teach
them new things.
Take your grandchildren on field trips.
Provide after school day
care for family members
Care for an ailing relative, or
Employ someone to work with you on
Rescue and care for animals if
possible. Become a pet walker.
Find a Pen Pal.
Re-decorate the house.
Study acting, join a local
Become a bee keeper. raise bees,
grow & sell honey.
Play cards regularly.
Travel to new lands.
Host birthday parties, Host Avon
Networks, Host Tupperware Parties.
Take up knitting, Make
quilts. Clean the house.
Stay socially active, go
Find a room mate to
break the boredom.
Do wood working or iron
Take up pottery making.
Basically take time for activities
that stimulate your mind and develop new connections within
Don't spend all day watching
TV, or Sports.
Limit TV time to informative
programs like the news or 60 Minutes
Don't read books excessively
Don't sleep more than 7 or 8
hours a day.
Don't be a couch potato
Don't sit staring
out a window all day.
Don't drink alcohol
excessively or take drugs.
Don't sit at a slot machine
Don't be an
isolationist - get out and socialize.
Basically avoid activities
where you are not using your brain to reason - such as
In addition to exercising one's mind
and staying physically active, diet plays an important role in preventing
dementia and Alzheimer's. A recent study of 250 men in their 60s
were given a diet high in flavinoids. Flavinoids provide the color
in fruits and raw vegetables. In general, the darker the fruit skin,
i.e. blue berries, the more flavinoids present, the better the source.
The study showed that after 6 months on the diet, the majority of men had
cognitive skills of men 30 to 40 years of age. This is a small
sample and more research is required to draw any conclusions, but a bowl
of fruit for breakfast will not hurt.
Recently, another study involving
older adults (with an average age of 76 years), 12 weeks of daily
blueberry consumption was enough to improve scores on two different tests
of cognitive function including memory.
There are other foods known to help cognitive
skills. Shrimp is an excellent source of the antioxidant mineral
selenium. Selenium deficiency has been shown to be a risk factor
for heart failure and other forms of cardiovascular disease, as well
as for other problems including type 2 diabetes, compromised cognitive
function, and depression.
On March 15, 2016, researchers at
the American Chemical Society and the Krembil Research
Institute of the University of Toronto said, an extract
from maple syrup prevents clumping and "misfolding" of
brain cell proteins--which build up and cause plaques
that trigger the devastating disease. Other
natural food products such as green tea, red wine,
berries, curcumin and pomegranates continue to be
studies for their potential benefits on combating
Alzheimer's disease. Current research show
that phenolicenriched extracts of maple syrup from
Canada showed neuroprotective effects, similar to
resveratrol, a compound found in red wine.
AN ADDED NOTE I
have an 85 year old friend that lost his wife to
Alzheimer's and ended up living alone with very little
outside stimulation. His cognitive skills
diminished and dementia became a worsening problem.
He lost his drivers license and had little or no outside
activity. Finally we had to turn him over to his
daughter to care for him and she placed him in a home
for seniors. After a year in the home, I went to
visit him and found he had a lady friend and he could
speak sentences with longer strings of words than the
last time I saw him. Previously he could only
mumble two word phrases, now he is able to communicate
reasonably well, although with some difficulty. I
don't know the program where he is living, but it has
made a big difference in a years time. I am
convinced that if you follow the above advice, you will
prolong your cognitive skills and live a much happier
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