Mrs. Robinson sits in a chair by the window. She suffers from Alzheimer’s. A friend of my mother’s is a nurse who takes care of her. Most of the time she just sits there quietly, but every once in a while she calls out for her husband who died many years ago. She will also say that it’s time to get on the train. Mrs. Robinson is suffering from the final stages of the disease.
I have a friend in New York who is a psychiatrist from Russia. He runs a clinic in Brooklyn for senior citizens who have dementia. He takes a multi-level approach to treating them.
He also has written a couple of books about exercising the brain and keeping dementia away in healthy senior citizens. He takes sort of a holistic approach. He recommends that they exercise both their bodies and their brains as well as follow a healthy diet.
He also has developed a series of exercises that strengthen the pathways in the brain that relate to the hands and the eyes, two of the areas in an infant that develop most quickly. He has built a model that shows these pathways in relation to the other areas of the brain. They are huge. He says that by re-establishing these pathways we had when our brains were developing, we can stave off dementia.
According to CNN, mental exercise in our later years can keep us from dementia longer. But there is a reverse side to this. “A study of more than 1,100 participants aged 65 and older, none of whom had dementia when the research began, finds that people who regularly engage in mentally stimulating activities may stave off the onset of dementia. But here’s the flip side: Those who are cognitively active also decline more rapidly when they do develop symptoms.”
But this may not be such a bad thing. It just means that senior citizens in this group spend less time in a dementia state than their counterparts. Th researchers warn that this is the first study to show a more rapid decline in those who participate in cognitive activities. It is also an observational study and not a controlled experiment.
The national Institutes of Health delivered a statement recently that said that no change in lifestyle activities could stave off the symptoms of dementia indefinitely. But I believe that the longer you stay active and healthy will at least make those later years a lot more enjoyable.