14th Jan 2016
A CNN report in December, 2015, noted that a recent study performed by Suwa Tokyo University of Science, found that casino gaming provided improvement in frontal and parietal lobe activity, which helps stimulate the brain and helps prevent or suppress the development of dementia. The U.S. gaming industry released data showing half of the new casino players are age 50 or older, and, the down side is that AARP warns that this age group is the fastest growing segment of gambling addicts. But Yokohama residents indicate that gaming keeps their brains sharp and offers companionship. One resident stated that “I’ve lived alone for decades, many days I don’t speak a work, I feel very depressed, but here we play games and talk.” Another confided I use my brain playing mahjong and I use my fingers, I believe it helps stimulate my mind.”
Most Japanese cities prohibit all forms of gambling, however the Yokohama Center does not allow money to be involved, and instead use fake currency. However, many other studies have demonstrated prevention or suppression of dementia by consuming more nuts and fish or taking a brisk walk each day. Scientists say that certain simple everyday lifestyle changes can cut the risk of dementia, and these things are certainly worth a try.
In his book, The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program,Gary Small, MD, a director at the UCLA Longevity Center argues that it is indeed possible to stave off dementia. Although it could be decades before we have conclusive proof from large-scale studies, Dr. Small believes we shouldn’t wait to start changing our behavior. Below are suggestions in behavior and lifestyle to prevent or suppress dementia:
Exercise: Daily brisk walks can lower a person’s risk for dementia by up to 45%. According to Dr. Small, “(w)hen your heart is really pumping, you deliver more nutrients and oxygen to your brain. The body secretes protective chemicals during physical activity—including a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is thought to spark the growth of neurons. Exercise can’t guarantee that you won’t get dementia, of course. But the hope is to delay the disease long enough so that you never experience symptoms in your lifetime.”
Mental Exercise (that is non-repetitive): In a compelling study by John Hopkins http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2002/ACTIVE.html) adults who received as few as 10 sessions of mental training not only improved their cognitive functioning in daily activities in the months after the training, but continued to show long-lasting improvements 10 years later. According to Dr. Small, mental exercise to stave off dementia should not be repetitive, and can be as easy as changing the route you use to drive home from work, every now and then.
Caffeine: A study http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128110552) performed in Finland found that subjects who drank three to five cups of coffee a day had a 65% lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. But too much coffee makes it hard to sleep, and sleep is important for brain health. Moderation is key.
Diet: Make sure your diet includes lots of leafy greens and foods rich in omega-3s (like nuts and fish). Curry is also helpful, because it contains the spice turmeric. Research shows that turmeric may help prevent the accumulation of plaques that build up in the brains of dementia patients and that can interfere with communication between neurons. Research also suggests eating a diet high in vegetables and grains, and limiting foods such as sugar and red meat, can reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Red Wine: A regular glass of red wine appears to have benefits, but researchers point out that binge drinking has been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Also there are studies which have substituted grape juice with similar results.
Quality Sleep: Research suggests that disrupted sleep isn’t just a symptom of dementia, but a possible risk factor. An increasing number of studies have linked poor sleep to higher levels of beta-amyloid, a sticky brain-clogging protein that in turn further interferes with sleep — especially with the deep sleep necessary for memory formation. Other studies emphasize the importance of uninterrupted sleep for flushing out brain toxins.
Social Engagement: Research shows that active social life may even protect against dementia in later life, so make developing and maintaining a strong network of friends a priority. When it comes to socializing, think quality, not quantity. In-person, face-to-face interaction is always best.
Sunshine: A major study suggests plenty of sunshine in retirement could reduce the risk of dementia. The six year study looked at 1,658 American adults aged 65 and over who were free from dementia, heart disease, and stroke at the outset. It found that those who were moderately deficient in Vitamin D had a 53% increased risk of developing any kind of dementia, and for those who were severely deficient, the risk increased to 125%. For the average person, such levels are achieved by about 20 minutes of mid-day sunshine on the face and forearms, three times a week.
Reducing Stress: Stress that is chronic or severe takes a heavy toll on the brain, leading to shrinkage in a key memory area of the brain known as the hippocampus, hampering nerve cell growth, and increasing your risk of dementia. To reduce stress, various studies associate spirituality with better brain health. Regular meditation, prayer, reflection, and religious practice may protect you against the damaging effects of stress. Daily relaxation should also be a priority (whether it’s a walk in the park, yoga, a soothing bath, or reading a good book).
Gambling: See above.
Promising research shows that you can reduce your risk of dementia through a combination of healthy habits, including eating right, exercising, staying mentally and socially active, and keeping stress to a minimum. By leading a brain-healthy lifestyle, you may be able to prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow down, or even reverse, the process of deterioration.
Medicaid Asset Protection
Do you have a loved one who is suffering from dementia? Persons with dementia and their families face special legal and financial needs. At Christensen Young & Associates, we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on those suffering from dementia and their loved ones. We help protect the family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits such as Medicaid and Veterans Aid and Attendance. Please call us as soon as possible to make an appointment for a no-cost initial consultation.