Dementia normally hits you in the old age and you can avoid it by staying mentally active. Like any other muscle in your body, your brain needs constant exercise and you can exercise your brain by constantly using it. Up till now it has been an unscientific logic, but according to this Time article the latest research has established the fact scientifically.
What exactly does staying mentally active mean? You don’t need to solve intricate puzzles and ponder over complex scientific theories. You just need to remain involved in your day-to-day activities, just as you were when you were a bit less older.
In most of the cases dementia is not a disease. It’s a muscular degeneration caused by inactivity. It can happen with any part of your body. If for a long period you don’t use your hand and simply let it hang for a couple of years, you won’t be able to use it. The same it is with your brain, if you don’t use it, you cannot use it when you really want to use it.
There is a reason why scientists, writers and thinkers continued to remain sharp until their deaths. This is because they are constantly using their brain. There are many writers who keep on writing and getting published way beyond their 90s, by following a strict intellectual routine in order to remain sharp and informed.
Listed below are a few things you can do to stay mentally active and consequently, avoid dementia.
Being old doesn’t mean you are irrelevant
Sadly, this is our socio-cultural set up. People growing old means they are no longer a vibrant part of the society. Due to the old-age their activities have been limited, they’re not upbeat about their future, their kids don’t depend on them for financial as well as physical support and basically, they are waiting to die, knowingly or unknowingly. Stop thinking like that. As long as you live, you are part of this world. If right now you don’t know your relevance, you have to find it.
Develop passions and hobbies
All our lives we want to do something meaningful but since we have to provide for our families, our livelihoods take precedence over our passions and hobbies. Have you ever wanted to plant at least 20 trees in your neighborhood but never actually got to doing it? Do you want to keep up a pet? Do you want to help the unfortunate? Do you want to get involved with your church or your temple? Are you good at accounts and can help people sort out their finances? Can you take care of your grandkids for even a couple of hours to give some respite to their parents? Do you want to take up painting or singing? Do you want to write for a local newspaper? Or for that matter, would you like to start a blog and develop your own community of dedicated readers? There are so many things you can do. All it takes is some effort.
Become more social
Don’t be a recluse, even if just for the sake of avoiding dementia. When you interact with people, when you hold conversations, you have to use your brain. You have to think about things. You have to solve problems. When you’re constantly staying at home, totally alone, with no stimulating interaction, your brain grows inactive. You can hold get-togethers and parties in the neighborhood. You will be surprised to know how many old and retired people are there in your neighborhood. Since all of you have a cornucopia of knowledge and wisdom, and also experience, you can have lots of engaging conversations with each other. And who knows, you may also develop new relationships.
You can also join groups and clubs for different activities. For example, in the movie “A Song for Marion” a group of old people forms a singing group and gets together regularly for practice.
What about finding old and forgotten relatives? What a fun it would be to be able to chat with a cousin with whom you haven’t talked for the past 50 years!
The basic point is, you don’t have to be a public intellectual or a successful professional in order to remain physically and mentally active. Even in day-to-day affairs you can remain sufficiently active and as an added benefit, avoid problems like dementia.