Reduce dementia by 40% 

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The most common concept of utilization is “Use it or Loose it”. This has been a driving force behind dementia research which is projecting a 40 percent increase in the next 12 years. We may not be able to cure dementia at this time, However, the answer is in the etiology of the problem that if the brain is not used, then loss of it functionality is inevitable. Numerous research have shown that regular physical activity and increase in activity can reduce the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, by as much as 50%.

Activities theory is a sociological concepts that argues that staying mentally and physically active will increase happiness among older adults. In addition to increasing happiness, there has been ongoing correlation to increase in brain function at a later age. People who remain active and engaged tend to be happier, healthier, and more in touch with what is going on around them. Same goes for people of any age.

With the current projection of 40% increase by the Alzheimer's association, the question then becomes how can we reverse the process. How does activity prevent dementia. According to a diagram published by the Alzheimer's association of a healthy brain and an Alzheimer's brain, there is considerable shrinkage in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex of the brain when it is affected by Alzheimer's. They both play dominant roles in memory formation and complex thinking, and therefore their deterioration will result in loss of memory.

Amazingly, researchers are finding that these are the very areas responsive to physical exercise. In fact, higher fitness levels correlate with an increase in size in both the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. This means that exercise can help our brains continue to grow, and reduce cognitive decline.

A longitudinal study was conducted on the matter by Dr. Hui-Xin Wang et al and the results suggested that exercising and other stimulating activity, either mentally or socially oriented, may protect against dementia, indicating that both social interaction and intellectual stimulation may also be relevant to preserving mental functioning in the elderly.

It is very simple if your question is how. It is never too late or too early start. You don’t need to work out an hour a day to experience benefits, neither do you need a gym membership and a personal trainer. About 20 - 30 minutes of doing minimal exercise like walking several times a week will improve brain function and cognitive performance. Even though increasing the intensity of your workout could offer additional protection. Research suggests that moderate intensity exercise is sufficient for improving your brain. Finally, increasing social interaction and involving in mental stimulating activities like reading and mental games will reduce you chances of cognitive deterioration.

Always keep in mind that  "The reverence of promoting quality of life will always include encouragement and support in the things that make life worth living".

Written by Akua Boateng, MSW, LSW

 

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