Dementia is a term used for the decline in mental ability which is severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is not a specific disease but it covers a wide range of symptoms related to the weakening of memory or other thinking skills. Symptoms of dementia vary widely, but at least two of the following main mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered as dementia:
- Ability to focus
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
How brain exercises help in delaying dementia?
Numerous studies have suggested that involving in mentally stimulating exercises or activities is associated with reduced cognitive decline, better cognitive function and decreased risk of developing dementia. Activities which stimulate brain may build brain cells’ reserve that helps in compensating for the damage caused by dementia. Keeping the brain active helps in preserving brain cells healthy and the connections between them, active. Since the brain is capable of compensating and functioning well, the onset of dementia may get delayed.
What kind of brain exercises will help in delaying dementia?
Activities involving interaction, communication, organisation and thinking offer greatest benefits for our mental health. Some such activities are as follows:
Learning something new:
Learn a new language, read a new story or a book, try a new hobby or practice any musical instrument. The key is to challenge the brain functioning for something new and exciting.
Try to memorise small things like a grocery list or few phone numbers and progress to something more difficult like 29 Indian states and its languages and capitals. You can also create rhymes or play memory games with kids.
Solve puzzles or play board games:
Puzzles and strategy games provide a good mental workout and improve your capacity to retain cognitive functions. You can solve a jigsaw puzzle, play board games like chess or Scrabble, card games or number games. These games make you think and concentrate more. You can also play memory games on your phone or laptop.
Practice the 5 W’s:
Try to answer five questions- “Who, What, Where, When and Why” about any new experience. This approach will improve your observation and memory.
Vary your habits:
Change or vary your usual habits to create a new stimulus for your brain like, take a new route to your work, which you have never tried before or try doing some jobs with your non-dominant hand like writing, typing, painting or eating.
There is nothing that can eliminate or prevent dementia. However, if you continue learning new things throughout life and keep challenging your brain, you are more likely to reduce the risk of dementia or delay it. In simple words “You use it, or you lose it”.
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- Mental exercise and dementia. https://www.fightdementia.org.au/files/helpsheets/Helpsheet-DementiaQandA06-MentalExercise_english.pdf. Accessed on 27th Sept 2016.
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia Prevention. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/alzheimers-dementia/alzheimers-and-dementia-prevention.htm. Accessed on 27th Sept 2016.
- What is dementia. http://www.alz.org/what-is-dementia.asp. Accessed on 27th Sept 2016.
- What is dementia? https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=106. Accessed on 27th Sept 2016.