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18 Fearless Years
Caregiver.com

 

Gary Barg - Editor-in-chiefMeet Your Memory Stimulation Therapist

Just in time for the end of summer comes proof that exercise does indeed have positive results on the exerciser. For all of you couch potatoes, don’t sweat (as if you would anyway!). I am actually talking about exercises designed to preserve the attention, language skills and memory of your loved ones living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. For those of you who don’t believe this is possible, don’t take my word for it. Let’s hear from the scientists themselves. The proof is simply overwhelming.

In a study con­ducted by Dr. Yaakov Stern, indi­vid­u­als with the high­est level of leisure activ­i­ties pre­sented 38 percent less risk (con­trol­ling for other fac­tors) of devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s symp­toms. For each additional type of activ­ity, the risks were reduced by eight per­cent. The belief is that intel­lec­tu­ally stimulat­ing hob­bies or activ­i­ties help to build ­ cog­ni­tive reserve.

And, as we discussed recently, new research suggests participating in brain-stimulating activities at any age can preserve memory. People who engage in activities that exercise the brain, such as reading, writing and playing card games, may delay the rapid memory decline that occurs upon developing dementia. According to a study published in Neurology®, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology, researchers looked at the point when memory loss started accelerating rapidly for the participants. “The point of accelerated decline was delayed by 1.29 years for the person who participated in 11 activities per week, compared to the person who participated in only four activities per week,” said study author Charles B. Hall, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY. The results remained valid after researchers factored in the education level of the participants. “The effect of these activities in late life appears to be independent of education,” Hall said. The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging.

Now that the scientific proof is in, we know how important game-playing can be to help preserve mental acuity before or even after an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis. I believe that what we need to do is create a new professional position for ourselves. In addition to Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists and even Speech Therapists, I think a role we must take on as active and fearless caregivers is Memory Stimulation Therapist. Our first task in this new role is to research all of the ways that we can put the best tools to work to help preserve our loved ones’ and clients’ mental skills.

This is one exercise you can take advantage of without leaving your air-conditioned room.
Now, that’s what I call a win-win.

Ok. Deal me in.

Gary Barg
Editor-in-Chief
Today's Caregiver magazine
gary@caregiver.com

Wednesday August 7, 2013

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