Memory loss is commonly attributed to two things: injury to the head and old age. Every time someone forgets something, we as a society jokingly ask, “Did you hit your head or something?” And the person who forgot something might reply, “No. I must be getting old.”
There is a good chance that that little conversational exchange already happened to everyone. What is it about getting old that causes memory loss or dementia? How can you prevent it, if it is even preventable? Can any agencies for the elderly help you in this regard?
The Causes of Dementia
There is something about the elderly that makes them susceptible to suffering from dementia. What is it?
Dementia is not just one disease. There are a lot of brain diseases that can cause dementia. Dementia is just the general term used to describe the decline of cognitive functions such as memory, learning, thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, decision making, and attention retention.
Around 50 million people worldwide have dementia. About a third of 85-year-old or older seniors suffer from Alzheimer’s diseases, which is the most common type of dementia (Alzheimer’s make up to 70% of dementia cases, some estimates conclude).
Proteins Damage Nerve Cells
A lot of these diseases cause an abnormal protein buildup in the brain. These protein build-ups compromise the function of the nerve cells. Ultimately, the buildups kill the nerve cells, causing the brain to shrink over time.
One protein in particular, beta-amyloid, is uncommonly present in the brains of those affected by Alzheimer’s. However, there is still a lot of research that experts have to do to fully understand this occurrence in the brains of those affected by Alzheimer’s.
Let’s Dive Deeper – Lack of Brain Activity
Yes, the buildup of abnormal proteins, such as beta-amyloid, within the brain is a very likely culprit for “whodunnit” dementia. But what causes the buildup of these abnormal proteins?
Although there is no concrete proof, all evidence points to the lack of brain activity as the root cause of dementia. A manuscript published in the US National Library of Medicine links the connection between the lack of synaptic activity and the decline of cognitive functions and the deposition of the beta-amyloid.
A lot of world-renowned medical sources support this claim. Experts think that increased brain activity as you age diminishes the chances of dementia development significantly. Again, this is not yet proven. But a lot of evidence points this way.
Prevent Dementia – Use Brain Teasers
The brain is a muscle. And basic biology says that if a muscle is not used, not being challenged, or not put under tension, it declines and atrophies. It becomes weaker and useless. That is how our brains work. The lack of brain usage causes it to lose its sharpness. To help prevent that, doing brain teasers with your seniors goes a long way.
Engaging in mentally stimulating exercises like reading, writing, or playing mind games and brain teasers improves brain health. These are the activities that exercise the brain muscles. Exercising the brain prevents the buildup of beta-amyloid in the brain.
Merriam-Webster dictionary “defines brain teaser” this way:
“something (such as a puzzle) that demands mental effort and acuity for its solution”
While the Oxford dictionary defines it as:
“a problem or puzzle, typically one designed to be solved for amusement”
As you can see, brain teasers should challenge the mind and are amusing. Here are a few examples of mind games and brain teasers you can play with your seniors:
Scrabble: This is a classic board game that involves many forms of thinking. It stimulates the use of vocabulary, reading, mathematics (scoring), and problem-solving. It also does not hurt that it requires companions to play.
Chess – arguably is the best and most classic strategy board game. Chess really challenges the mind. There are a lot of benefits to playing chess. While you can play chess against a computer program, it is suggestible to play with another person.
Crossword Puzzles– a timeless pastime, crossword puzzles open new possibilities for learning.
Checkers– not as strategically challenging as chess, checkers still requires players to plan, strategize, predict the opponent’s moves and ultimately outsmart them.
Jigsaw puzzles: Jigsaw puzzles force us to use parts of our brains that we don’t use often. It focuses on problem-solving, seeking patterns, and the creativity of the mind.
The memory game – guess what? It challenges the memory. If you don’t know how to play the game, check it out online. It’s easy enough to play with children, which is something Grandma would surely appreciate.
It’s Not Just About the Games
Aside from the lack of brain use, there are other causes of dementia among seniors. One of them is loneliness. It is why it is highly recommended that you play these brain teasers with your beloved seniors. When their social needs are not met, severe mental health problems are the result.
There is a link between the mental and emotional health of each individual. Meeting your senior parents’ or friends’ emotional needs is equally important as meeting their mental needs when it comes to fighting dementia.
However, you have other duties in life. You have work and other family members who need your attention. How do you fulfill your beloved seniors’ emotional and mental needs when you are not physically around?
Use Available Services
There are a lot of healthcare services for the elderly that you can take advantage of. However, your best option is a company that provides care for the elderly in their own homes. Ensuring that your beloved elderly stay at home and not in a nursing home shows how much you love them.
Help at home services allows you to physically stay in touch with your loved ones, enjoy time with them, and do these activities together. Plus, if you’re not home, a home care provider can serve as the companion of the elderly. They can meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of your loved one.
If you are looking for compassionate and affordable home care services in Orange County, California, check out Infinite Love Homecare. Infinite Love Homecare only provides the most caring in-home healthcare providers. Reach us via our Contact Us page or call us at (949) 529-4130.