Diseases of cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, have devastating effects not only for the patients, but also for their loved ones. Worldwide, nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer’s or dementia, which are the top causes of disability later in life. Globally, the estimated cost of Alzheimer’s and dementia is $236 billion, which is equivalent to 1% of the world’s GDP (Alzheimers.net). As the lifespans of the current and future generations are expected to increase, so too will these numbers—that is, unless we decide to do something about it. And we can.
Imagine for a second that you want to strengthen your biceps and triceps. You might try some weight training exercises. These exercises might be extremely difficult at first, and might even cause your muscles to hurt, but the more you practice, the easier it will become. As you master the first set of weight training exercises, you might start to move on to more advanced exercises to continue building your muscles. And of course, you must practice consistently, as if you stop using your muscles, they will atrophy. Sound familiar?
Well, your brain is a muscle like any other, and in order to keep it functioning to the best of its ability throughout your life, you have to use it and challenge it. Now, the brain can’t get bigger in size the way that your biceps, triceps, and other muscles can. But the more you exercise your brain, the more neural connections it creates. This concept is known as neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is evidence that we can train and change our brains over time. But in order to do this, we can’t simply live our lives doing the same old thing every single day until we die. We can’t just spend our old age lying around and watching TV. We must challenge ourselves by learning new skills and practicing them with discipline.
For example, a recent study found that knowing a second (or third or fourth) language is associated with later onset of Alzheimer’s. According to the study, “It seems that constantly and actively controlling two languages is like a workout for the brain. It challenges our grey cells and keeps them from degenerating.” Another study found that exercising regularly helps preserve the volume of a person’s hippocampus—the part of the brain responsible for memory and the first part of the brain that Alzheimer’s attacks.
To date, there are no other known treatments for preserving hippocampus volume, which has huge implications for Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment. Recommended physical activities include brisk walking, dancing, swimming, cycling, bicep curls, chair stands, and even gardening. Even spending an hour on Google or Wikipedia can stimulate the brain and possibly improve thinking and memory. Research shows that keeping your mind active demonstrate improvements in memory, reasoning, information processing speed, and even everyday tasks such as money management and housework. However, the evidence shows that keeping your brain active is only effective before the cognitive decline actually sets in. This finding speaks to the importance of developing and cultivating healthy habits all throughout your life.
Other healthy habits associated with the prevention of cognitive decline include consuming more fruit, increasing your intake of Vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, limiting sugar intake, reducing stress, meditating, and getting enough sleep.
No matter how old you are, you can take your first steps to prevent cognitive decline by creating a profile on Konversai. Konversai is the new global marketplace for personal knowledge enabling anyone anywhere to share their knowledge about literally anything via live video. Konversai gives you the opportunity to learn something you’ve always wanted to but thought you never had the time, be it a musical instrument, a foreign language, a sport, or a new subject.
Perhaps you want to learn more about how to keep your mind and body healthy. There are plenty of providers on Konversai who are excited to share their knowledge about nutrition, yoga, meditation, fitness, and brain games. If you have a loved one who is experiencing cognitive decline and you want to connect with someone who has been in a similar situation, you can also do that on Konversai. After all, talking to someone who has been in your position can offer you insights that cannot be found on Google or WebMD.
On Konversai, you can also utilize your existing skillsets and keep them alive by teaching them to others. You can even charge for those sessions where you’re providing knowledge. Regardless of where you live and what your circumstances are, you have a unique talent, skill, or knowledge that can benefit somebody somewhere. Don’t let cognitive decline ruin your ability to share that precious knowledge.
It would be such a shame to be alive without actually living and for your loved ones to witness the person you once were slowly deteriorate due to cognitive decline. Don’t let that happen. Get on Konversai today to invest in your current and future self. Challenge your brain, learn new things, and take advantage of all that the world has to offer you and that you can offer the world so that you can live the best life you possibly can.
- Carper, Jean. (2010). World Alzheimer’s Day. 10 Tips to Prevent Alzheimer’s. The Huffington Post.
- Sauer, Alissa. (2014). Exercising Later in Life Might Lower Risk for Alzheimer’s. Alzheimers.net
- Sauer, Alissa. (2015). 15 Resolutions to Reduce Your Dementia Risk in 2015. Alzheimers.net
- WebMD. Brain Exercises and Dementia