The problem of dementia is paid great attention in different spheres of modern medicine, but no ultimate treatment was still invented. It indicates a serious loss of cognitive and intellectual abilities that becomes an obstacle in successful social or professional functioning.
Possible causes and risk factors for dementia include advancing age, genetics (family history), smoking, alcohol use, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, diabetes, mild cognitive impairment and Down syndrome. With the progression of disease numerous functions of the organism are weakened, such as memory, perception, attention, language, judgment, orientation, motor and spatial skills.
Most treatment strategies for dementia fail to stop, reverse or at least to slow down the progression. However, there are certain medications that may reduce the symptoms, but never get rid of them completely. A new research shows that preventive methods are the best option in securing the absence of disease in older age. Constant stimulation of intellectual abilities, as well as lifetime education may be the most effective weapon against dementia.
Mentally stimulating lifestyle presents no difficulties and is accessible even to people with lower educational or professional advancement. Such pleasant and useful activities as reading, playing music and games, especially when employed in midlife, could become an efficient protection against the disease in the old age.
It is generally recommended to enroll in useful free-time activities in case your work doesn't suggest a lot of specific intellectual efforts. To this may be included occupation with creative art, including crafts. Good advice would be to participate in group or team work, as it is also a beneficial resource for stimulating brain activity.
A large-scaled experiment was carried out to check how exactly routine brain exercises serve as instrument of reducing the disease risk. Of almost two thousand men and women involved in the research only three hundred had an insignificant impairment in cognitive abilities. Others were identified as cognitively normal. All participants were divided hierarchically on the basis of two main factors: the level of their past educational progress and degree of intellectual complexity of past occupation. They were also asked to fill in the survey describing how often they practiced any intellect involving sort of activities during last year and in their middle-age. Then, finally, they were examined to find out whether they had the special gene, responsible for activating Alzheimer's disease, called APOE gene.
First results showed that the category, most prone to low level of mental development, mainly constituted of carriers of the APOE gene and those, who were at the bottom of the hierarchy distinguishing past level of education, job and free-time activities. Apart from this, men were more vulnerable to that sort of disease than women.
The fact that amazed the scholars, however, was that some carriers of the dangerous gene managed to delay the disease for practically nine years. It was applicable to those who were on the top of scientists' hierarchy (meaning they enrolled all their life in various intellectual activities). In general all participants who persistently engaged in such activities in middle-age and their later years also significantly reduced the risk for dementia. The highest level of effectiveness was achieved by those who combined every-day exercises with education and fitting job.
Likewise, patients that started practicing mental activities middle-aged and further won in comparison with those who remained passive. If a person didn't spend years practicing in educational and occupational development, even a late start could help delay overall cognitive impairment for three years.
Although the link between lower cognitive abilities and lower education was well-known, the results of the research reveal an unexpected correlation between lifestyle of learning and cognitive functioning in the old age.