By Dr. Loreen Dawson, BSc, ND
Will reading regularly prevent dementia? This is an interesting question. While the research does show that engaging in mind stimulating activities such as reading, board games and betting on horse races (yes, they studied that!) will delay the onset of dementia, these activities alone are not enough to guarantee dementia prevention.
Dementia is a horrible and disabling condition which affects older adults. Given that there are no effective treatment options to date, more and more research is being done on how to prevent dementia, and how to reverse it in the earliest stage, which is called mild cognitive decline (MCI).
Dementia develops because several things, or many things, are going wrong at the same time. Lack of mental stimulation is one of these things, and active reading does help with that, but, it isn’t enough to overcome other risk factors, should they be present.
In order to have the best chance of preventing dementia, as many of the risk factors as possible must be addressed. These risk factors include, but are not limited to: diabetes, obesity, poor diet, nutrient deficiencies, smoking, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, and lack of exercise. Stress, depression, poor sleep, and poor social relationships are other common risks. In total, about 40 different risk factors have been identified so far.
If you want to use reading as part of your dementia prevention plan, then, make your reading as stimulating to your brain as possible. For example, join a book club, or start a book club, so you can discuss what you read. Read a wide variety of topics, both fiction and non-fiction to keep your mind thinking about different things. Read the news daily to keep up with current events. Read books or articles which are challenging in some way, and really make you think. Read poetry, and really allow yourself to feel or imagine what is being written about. Use your imagination or visualization powers while reading. Keep your mind engaged!
Engaged and active reading can be part of a dementia prevention plan, but only one part. Review and address other risk factors to improve your chances of having a long, happy life with your brain fully functioning to the end.
If you need help with this, or any other health problem, please contact Hummingbird Naturopathic clinic. We have a dementia prevention group program, or a dementia prevention individual program available. Let us help you improve your health.