The In-home Caregiver Sorts Through Some Dementia Theories
What’s the “million-dollar question” in medicine today? One of the top few—actually worth far, far more than a million dollars—is what causes dementia. As scientists continue to work night and day to find a cause and a cure for this common disease of the elderly, the best we can do is try to find out whether there is anything we can do to delay its progress. Theories abound, from the obvious to the sketchy, on just what is within our power. Today, the in-home caregiver tries to help us sort things out.
What Should We Do?
If you are looking for advice on how to prevent dementia or slow its progress, you will find plenty. The most obvious suggestions are probably also the most effective:
- Keep the mind active every day with human conversation, reading, learning, and complex mental tasks that keep the mind “exercising.”
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which supply vitamins and minerals to the mind and keep it healthy.
There are always new studies coming out with more specific suggestions on what might reduce dementia risk. Some of the most recent include:
- Cataract surgery, which enhances vision and puts less strain on the brain.
- Gardening—like crossword puzzles and many other specific activities mentioned as beneficial, gardening forces the brain to tackle complex problems and coordinate physical actions.
- Some diabetes drugs appear to slightly slow the development of dementia.
At the end of the spectrum are highly unusual studies: one recent study suggests that losing a spouse may reduce the survivor’s risk for developing dementia.
What Should We Not Do?
What activities make us more likely to get dementia faster? For one thing, ignoring the suggestions listed above. Limited engagement with other people, whether friends, family, or even an in-home caregiver, makes it easy for the brain to slow down and become frail. A poor diet deprives the brain of the nutrients it needs to maintain energy against the pull of old age.
Obesity and alcohol consumption are also currently in the spotlight as risk factors for dementia. Pursuing a healthy diet, though, will combat these factors as well as many other life-threatening illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
A Final Suggestion: an In-home Caregiver
We would like to suggest that a compassionate, energetic, personable caregiver can also help a senior stave off dementia. She can provide invigorating conversation, play mind-exercising games, accompany the senior on walks through the neighborhood for valuable physical activity, and cook healthy meals that are full of all the vitamins your loved one needs. If your senior family member is facing the development of dementia, we would like to come alongside you and help you care for them.