Techniques for slowing dementia's progression

By Alzheimers Auckland

Seniors socialising in Auckland

With winter on the way, a tough time for many older people especially those with dementia, we thought it would be a great time to share some ways you and your loved ones can spend time together enjoying each other’s company.

This time together has several benefits, including helping you educate each other, and working towards slowing down the progression of dementia.

Whether or not someone in your family is already living with dementia, we live in an ageing population.

Educating ourselves – as well as putting some new habits into practice – around the different ways to slow down dementia, is something we should all put effort into.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to mean drastic changes to your daily schedule.

Techniques for slowing the progression of dementia are largely social, and can be fun for the whole family.

Get social and physical

For instance, the simple act of interacting with other people is hugely important for those with dementia1, as emotional bonds are vital for mental and emotional health – no matter which stage of life you’re in.

Furthermore, different social activities can be more valuable than others.

Improving and maintaining physical and mental health, through exercise and challenging the mind, can help tremendously in slowing the progression of dementia.

Keeping healthy is often a trifecta of physical and mental exercises, as well as maintaining low stress levels.

Games such as cards and board games are a good way to challenge the brain and have a few laughs!

Studies have shown that physical exercise can slow the progression of dementia– there’s a reason for the saying “healthy body, healthy mind”2.

Try regularly going for walks, especially as a group – whether it be a visit to the botanical gardens or simply a stroll around the neighbourhood.

Alternatively, for something more fun, try putting on some music and dancing around the room.

Maintaining moderate activity levels can often reduce cognitive decline and doing it as a group can be beneficial to everyone.

Walking group alzhelmers Auckland

Get thinking

Consider spending the winter months learning a new language together, or completing a large puzzle as a group. These familiar, yet new and exciting, mental challenges are valuable to everyone, no matter their age or situation.

If done as a group, it’s another opportunity to maintain social connections.

By educating each other on different techniques to slow the progression of dementia, you are not only participating in raising awareness, but also working towards improving and maintaining the mental, physical, and emotional health of yourself and those around you.

If you or your loved one do receive a diagnosis of dementia, or you’d simply like to learn more about Alzheimer’s, there is plenty of support available.

In the Auckland region alone, more than 15,000 people are living with dementia.

Alzheimers Auckland is one not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing dementia support services and inspiring those living with dementia to make the most of life.

They believe that with the right support programmes, improved environments, and connection to community, people affected by dementia can continue to make the most of each moment.

Many local organisations across New Zealand can help provide support, education, information and related services directly to members of the community who are living with dementia.

These services may include education to assist with understanding and living with a dementia diagnosis; support for family, friends and whānau coping with the demands of caring; and support groups and day programmes for people affected by dementia.

They can also advise you on the services available in your local community.

[1] http://healthland.time.com/2011/05/02/friends-with-benefits-being-highly-social-cuts-dementia-risk-by-70/

[2] http://www.alzheimersanddementia.com/article/S1552-5260(15)00197-1/abstract

Editor's note: Views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the Office for Seniors