Most people today have been impacted or know someone experiencing Alzheimer’s Disease. It may have started as playful forgetfulness but ended as a devastating condition. This very common disease diagnoses three million people per year and annually kills over 120,000 people.
This condition was first discovered by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906. He believed it was a curious disease where one of his patients who had profound memory loss. But it wasn’t until the 1970’s when it was recognized as the most common form of dementia.
Alzheimer’s comes from a slow buildup of proteins that turns into a plaque. Healthy neurons stop functioning and lose connections with other neurons. This enables the shrinking of the brain that produces a cognitive impairment.
Early-stage patients start to have memory problems and struggle to find words at times. Then the patients reach impaired reasoning which leads to greater memory loss. Later they can experience confused wandering in public, difficult in handling money, and constantly repeating questions.
More severe cases progress to a patient’s inability to learn new tasks and trouble recognizing family and friends. Some unfortunate few lose the ability to communicate. The enduring patients then can end up bed ridden.
There is still much unknown on the cause of Alzheimer’s Disease. Scientists believe that genetics play a significant role. Other scientists believe that there is diet, social, sleep, and physical factors that increase the risk. Only additional research will we have a greater understanding of how to prevent Alzheimer’s, but for the time being is there a way to take care of our mind with the chance that it could protect your future self from mental deterioration?
Think of the mind like a house. A house must be maintained and taken care of to get full use out of it. By performing constant minor maintenance, you typically escape major overhauls that will make you challenge bankruptcy.
Your mind fits the same mold of maintenance. You may simply want to stave off Alzheimer’s. Or you may just like to feel sharp like your brain is firing on all cylinders. The brain is like a muscle that the more it is exercised and used, the healthier it can be.
We all use our brain every day, yet some stretch it farther than others. Getting challenged puts it into overdrive. Yet, our daily life doesn’t do that, subconsciously we crave routine and pattern. Is there a way for us to push our thinking beyond comfort and into developmental growth?
Games have been touted as foundational to human advancement. They help develop social interaction while also stretching cognitive capabilities. Play has been an active form of learning first recognized by psychologist Lev Vygotsky in the 20th century.
During games the mind explore new areas and approaches to challenges. These challenges represent real life scenarios in a safer context of play. Thus, playing games the mind explores new challenges that had not been considered.
This is a pathway for learning along with activity that opens greater neuron activity. This greater activity increases focus and concentration. It also can lead to the decrease in the feelings of anxiety and stress. It is not a silver bullet for fighting off Alzheimer’s, but it is a start.
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