How Does Having Fun Keep Dementia Away?

How Does Having Fun Keep Dementia Away? January 14, 2019Leave a comment

Today, on my way home from a class, I heard a Ted Talk about how engineers are using their skills in medical fields now; as an example, to figure out how a surgeon can re-wire the nerves in someone’s arm that was lost in an accident, so that the prosthetic arm and hand works the same (actually better) than the one they were born with. How cool is that? A woman interviewed in the Ted Talk, with a new prosthetic arm, simply thought of grasping something with her hand and it happened – naturally! Those clever engineers have been able to trace the function of the tiniest nerves in our body, so that doctors can rewire them, wow! In the case of the woman with the new arm, she can also rotate her hand around 360 degrees now, which, I suppose, can come in handy in some situations…

Another example was a brilliant speech pathologist who, at a conference, noticed a young girl with Cerebral Palsy using a synthesized voice. She sounded like Steven Hawking! You’ve all heard that voice, not very lady like… She vowed to find a better alternative and created a computerized voice for the teen that sounded much more natural, causing her to scream – in her high-pitched teenage voice, “I sound like me!” Wow!

This all seems like science fiction to my generation, but these young engineers and doctors are excited about their new technologies and what they can provide for us in the future. I am so grateful to be alive in a time with so much potential.

Another great technological advance, that I love researching and talking about, is neuroplasticity. Our plastic brains can do so much more than we once thought. And every day we are finding out more about our wonderful brains.

Did you know that each of us can re-wire our own brains? It’s true. We have the power!

And it’s easier when we are learning something new. Our brains LOVE to learn new skills. It’s the best way to keep our brain healthy and hang onto that grey matter as long as possible.

Learning with friends in a social setting makes it even better. For instance, when you are learning Yoga or Pilates in a class with several of your friends, you have fun in the learning process, and everyone laughs more. This releases endorphins while you learn, which allows your brain to deepen this new learning pathway, making connections to your new skills deeper and stronger. So YES, indeed, having fun can keep your brain healthier for many years to come! If you want to learn how to do this for yourself, check out my Neuroplasticity course page. Those of you who have taken courses from me know that I teach you step by step in a way that’s fun and simple to understand. Check it out!

More studies than you can shake a stick at have shown that exercise done with friends will even further improve your cognitive function. So, if Yoga is not your thing, then perhaps walking or hiking or biking will work for you. Do some research and I’m sure you will find a bike shop that knows of a group ride a couple of times a week, or a group of women who hike local trails, or a walking club in your area. Any and all of these are good for your brain health and you get the double benefit of exercise and socialization. All of these, and more, are available here in the Berkshires and probably in your community as well, go find out!

We all know that exercise is good for our heart health, helps keep our muscles and bones healthy, and now we have even more reasons to get out there and get moving. Keeping that dementia demon away!

Walking your dog (or grand dog) is also good on the days when your friends don’t want to come out and play. Ever see a dog running around in the woods and not smile? I believe it’s impossible not to! We referred to my grand dog, Jade’s, antics as “the Jade show” because she was always making us smile. We took her on hikes with us often and let her lead the way. She would choose which path we took, unless we saw that the one she chose wasn’t really a path… We always had more fun with Jade along, so again, even with your pet, you get exercise and healthful endorphins at the same time.

Below is a little video from one of our hikes last winter, with Jade, that will make you laugh too!

As always, wishing you the best of health,

Kathi

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