Expert says that doctors and families are handling dementia all wrong

Our Take: John DenBoer is a clinical neuropsychologist and expert in the field of dementia. He claims that we are going about dementia the wrong way and suggests a greater emphasis on prevention. I found this article to be extremely interesting as a great deal of emphasis has been placed on keeping the mind active with activities such as crossword puzzles and games. In this article, he claims that we really need to go beyond that and focus on stressing the brain with challenging new learning activities.

Here is a short excerpt from the article

John DenBoer: There are many. One, dementia is just synonymous with aging — that it happens as you get older. This is a deep-seated philosophical myth because people tend to base a lot of their actions around that. They don’t take action, they don’t treat dementia like they would treat heart disease or diabetes, they don’t do a lot of the prevention or intervention because they don’t believe anything can be done. That leads to myth No. 2: That nothing can be done to curtail this disease.

And there’s another myth, that by simply doing brain activities, that will somehow be helpful in dementia prevention and intervention. If people keep their brain active, that’s OK, but it is not especially helpful for dementia mitigation because people tend to do things they already know how to do. My grandmother, for instance, she did the New York Times crossword puzzle, and she did that into Stage 2 and 3 dementia. So she would not know who we were but she knew how to do the New York Times crossword puzzle.

MW: So then, what is helpful?

DenBoer: New and novel learning. Doing things with the brain we’ve never done before. The American Academy of Neurology has indicated that doing new things with your brain, new and novel learning, helps release a chemical in the brain that helps prevent the brain from shrinking, which is what happens in all forms of dementia.

To read the full article in MarketWatch, click here.

One Response so far.

  1. Murphy O. says:
    Very interesting concept. It’s time to learn something new!!