Considerable thought, time and resources have gone into understanding how to handle one of the largest health conundrums of the 21st century: dementia. One study revealed that for every person diagnosed with dementia, many more were afflicted with cognitive decline that had not yet been diagnosed. The financial and emotional cost to affected individuals, their families and society have the potential to monumentally impact our everyday way of living.
Even though researchers, philanthropic organizations and family members have put countless hours and funding into the quest for a cure, there is still no permanent solution available. Doctors may be able to provide medication recommendations, although there are holistic alternatives available to slow the process of cognitive decline. Read on to learn more about the different options available.
The majority of dementia diseases cause increasing challenges as time goes by, and they cannot be reversed. Most pharmacological treatments have been designed to help stabilize the illness while attempting to lengthen quality of life. In addition, pharmacological drugs are used to reduce the accompanying indicators of dementia, such as anxiety or depression. However, many of the treatments currently available have been unsuccessful alone in the prevention of further decline beyond early stages and the reduction of coinciding issues. Furthermore, medications can cause nausea, loss of appetite, dizziness, confusion and a multitude of other unpleasant symptoms.
Non-Pharmacological Methods for Reducing Cognitive Decline
Neuroplasticity allows the brain to modify its connections based on memories and experiences by strengthening already existing connections or creating new ones. It can occur as a result of brain damage or from learning new information or skills. For instance, a person may be able to revive a specific motor function that was lost due to a stroke by remapping the motor function to a new region in the brain. As a result, the brain has modified itself to perform the needed task, such as moving the left arm and hand.
The following have been shown to promote neuroplasticity in the brain, thereby slowing symptoms of cognitive decline:
- Helpful Nutrition. A diet rich in “good” fats such as those found in nuts, olive oil and avocados is key. In essence, try to follow the Mediterranean diet.
- Mental Engagement. Reading the newspaper, working on crossword puzzles or learning new languages can lengthen the life of new brain cells by keeping them active and engaged!
- Social Engagement. Socializing can produce positive results in the brain and are particularly beneficial in-person so that non-verbal cues can be interpreted.
- Physical Activity. Research shows that exercise that works the heart and lungs simultaneously may help the memory, planning and judgment zones of the brain.
- Sensory Stimulation. Interestingly, our five physical senses tie into how our brain processes memories.
- For auditory stimulation, eliminate distractive noises when speaking. Play soothing music for relaxation.
- For visual stimulation, rely on photographs illustrating memorable people and experiences.
- For olfactory stimulation, experiment with fragrant flowers or plants and cook foods with recognizable scents. Aromatherapy diffusers may be helpful as well.
- For taste stimulation, experiment with complementary or contrasting ingredients in recipes to increase impressions.
- For tactile stimulation, have soft and cozy blankets or sweaters on hand. When appropriate, consider light touches to communicate positive feelings.
A caregiver, either a professional or family member, can help increase the quality of life significantly for a loved one suffering from dementia. Our program, the Cognitive Therapeutics Method™,supplies support and training for caregivers to administer an activities-based program for use at home and is available for those who are cognitively healthy and wishing to stay mentally sharp and for those with an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis who wish to delay symptoms.