How to Avoid Dementia
Avoiding dementia clearly starts with cardio vascular activities for heart healthy and for brain oxygen pump blood to the brain. In order to keep going you need strong muscles for longer cardio sessions. Research shows that two hours a day the most you should exercise and you can occasionally exercise more but much more. If you are over tired you will lose progress. One hour is a good minimum start which can be divided between cardio, strength and stretching. If one hour is too much start with less and work up to one hour. But more then two hours of exercise a day can be too much, and three hours is too much. Elite athletics exercise for 4 to 8 hours a day, but they are training for an event. For older people over exercising can cause chronic injuries like shin splints. If this happens it will be likely the person will quit working out.
I read a book written by an Evolutionary Biologist (Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding by Saniel E. Lieberman) that reported hunter gatherer tribes only walked about two hours a day. They did other activities beside the walking like lifting and carrying objects as well. To do much more then that becomes unnatural to the body and results in injuries or overuse. If you read the book it comes into great detail about things like what elite athletes do vs. average office worker.
If you don’t want to exercise you can try Brain Games. But Brain Games can encompass many things. There are Brain Games you can play with a computer and there are other hobbies that are reported to be good for you brain like learning a foreign language or music. It’s hard to do studies. If they find seniors who play music or study languages it may be only because they have less dementia to begin with. Once dementia sets it there will no motivation to play these games any longer.
They did do studies on seniors in nursing homes playing Brain Games and found that if they supervised them to make play the games they got better at the games only. If they just left the games for them and asked them to play when they wanted it did not work. But being better at the games did not help them in avoiding dementia.
According this article from Harvard Brain Games did not help the people avoid dementia. They are only wasting time in which one could be doing something more enjoyable. Maybe making the Brain Games more fun would help? Maybe just getting together with a group of friends and doing an activity helped the seniors? It does not matter what project they worked on as long as it was fun and challenging enough to hold their attention and not become boring or routine? A difficult project could be something like creating a wedding gown or building a model ship. It could be done with in concert with other people or alone. Seniors also benefits from creative writing classes. These classes given at many senior centers encourage seniors to write stories about their lives. This means they have to work on spelling and grammar at least in their own native language.
Other Helpful Activities
Learning to paint and doing art is also considered a Brain Game. Art is often given as an activity to mental patients because is fun for them and makes them feel better about themselves. Before photography was invented painting portraits of people was a skill in high demand. Painters devoted themselves to become excellent artists with thousands of hours of work. Since the digital revolution there is no need for anyone to spend that much time creating paintings. Art can be fun and abstract and does not even require technical skills to create an abstract painting. This is why so many wealthy people take up painting, it give them something to do. Writers who are no longer writing will take up painting. Prince Philip who recently passed away also took up painting. Musicians also take up painting. David Bowie and David Byrne took up painting. There are other types of art beside painting such as many Senior Homes have Ceramics Labs. Golf can be fun, social and there is a mental aspect to keeping score. Dancing involves both learning a routine and physical activity so it hits both important marks. Inventing a dance routine involves creativity, physical activity and mental focus. Travel takes one out of ones comfortable routine and finding new locations uses maps and direction skills. The traveler will be using mental resources constantly, but exercise, healthy diet, and sleep are harder to maintain when traveling. Traveling with an RV may increase the amount of control a traveler has over these factors. Many seniors enjoy traveling by RV and meet many good friends at the various RV parks. Socializing is important for preventing dementia. Traveling brings the opportunity to hike in various state and national parks. Later these experiences can be written up as a travel blog for more interactions with others.
If you want to avoid being in a nursing home it is important that you do not fall down and break a bone. Once you have it will be hard to continue to exercise enough to keep your brain health. This mean it is important to work to prevent Osteoporosis. Once becomes advanced there is no recovering from it. You can read my blog about Osteoporosis here.