Posted by: Bert Copple | September 17, 2010

Exercising the Brain Might Only Hide the Signs of Alzheimer’s

There is new research that suggests activities such as reading, crossword puzzles and other mentally stimulating activities have benefits and downsides when it comes to Alzheimer’s Disease.

As previous research suggests, the study found that such mental activity can slow the decline in thinking and memory during the normal aging process.

But the new development shows that people who kept up with these activities showed a hastening of their mental decline once symptoms of dementia began to set in.

“We think there’s a trade-off,” said senior study author Robert Wilson of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Keeping mentally active means that there is “a little more time during which the person is cognitively competent and independent and a little less time in a disabled and dependent state” once dementia does set in, said Wilson, who is senior neuropsychologist at Rush’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

In the past, studies have suggested that engaging in cognitive challenging activities might be helpful for warding off the appearance of dementia in older adults. Wilson and his co-workers tracked around 1,200 older people over nearly 12 years for their study.

The research found that increased cognitive activity among normal individuals meant that they were less likely to experience cognitive decline over several years.

But the opposite was true for those who did go on to develop dementia — people who had loved mentally challenging activities actually showed a quicker mental decline after the illness took over. In fact, the rate of decline accelerated by 42% for each point on the cognitive activity scale, the researchers report.

“The person who has a history of being cognitively active actually has more of the pathology in their brain, and so really has more severe disease,” he theorized. “That’s why they decline more rapidly from that point on.”

According to the authors, the results suggest that mental exercises help prevent the onset of dementia, but only if they’re started before signs of cognitive impairment appear — after that point, the brain is probably too damaged for such interventions to make a difference.

This may come as a scary find to some people, because they have been trying to participate in cognitive challenging activities in order to prevent the onset of dementia. It seems as if the world still needs to learn more about dementia and Alzheimer’s in order to fully understand it and hopefully devise a cure. Until we are able to, we must take care of our loved ones who have felt the pain of Alzheimer’s. But since we live such busy lives, that may not even be possible. This is where Home Instead Senior Care fits in.

Home Instead specializes in Alzheimer’s care, and our CAREGivers go through intense training to better work with and understand your loved one who may be suffering from dementia. There is no better caregiving company in the world, and our Alzheimer’s Care is world-renowned.

Home Instead Senior Care will provide outstanding caregivers to help your loved one with personal care, incidental travel, companionship, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and even meal preparation. To learn more, call 248-203-2273 or visit www.homeinstead.com . Home Instead Senior Care is the world’s trusted source of in-home non-commercial personal care and companionship for seniors. Each franchise is independently owned and operated. And remember, to us, it’s personal.

SOURCE: Medicinenet.com

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