Apr 6, 2012

Conversations as a Means to Delay the Onset of Alzheimer's Disease

Everyone needs conversation and social engagement. This includes persons who are deeply forgetful.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Conversations as a Means to Delay the Onset of Alzheimer's
Can conversation, social interaction, and using the brain slow the progression of Alzheimer's?

I believe it can and does.

Over the years, I have spent more and more time talking and interacting with Dotty.

For example, we start every day, right off the bat talking about the newspaper. Dotty reads me the day and date. Then I ask her what is interesting on the front page, and then get her to read some of it to me.

If that doesn't work we move to the food section and discuss the recipes. Most of the time the list of ingredients are quite long.

I still marvel at the fact that at the age of 95 years old Dotty can still read the newspaper without glasses. Believe it or not, she also watches television without eye glasses.

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Next we include Harvey in on the conversation. In case you are new, Harvey is a toy repeat parrot. I talk to Dotty, Harvey repeats what I say, and Dotty chimes in. I also sing to Harvey. Harvey repeats. Oddly, Dotty tell Harvey he has a good voice, she rarely tells me that I have a good voice.

I try to keep Dotty conversing or singing all day long. We use the Swing channel on television for music and it works like a charm.

I think most caregivers find it difficult to converse with a person who is deeply forgetful. If so, start singing and go from there.

My main point, you cannot let a person who is deeply forgetful sit around for long periods of time doing nothing. If you do I can already tell you what will likely happen. They will quickly become duller than a door know.

In addition, just about every caregiver on this website claims that memory day care programs work and bring clear cut benefits.

Believe or not, there is a clinical trial going on right now that is attempting to measure the effect of face-to-face communication on people without dementia. The purpose is to determine if conversation has a positive effect on cognitive function among the elderly. The best part is that the study will allow the patient to stay at home while communicating.

Here is the description.

Past epidemiological studies have demonstrated that larger social networks, or more frequent social interactions, could have potential protective effects on the incidence of Alzheimer's Disease (AD). However, in those studies, indicators of social interactions were often broad, and included distinct elements that affected cognition and overall health. the investigators will examine whether conversation-based cognitive stimulations have positive effects on general, and domain-specific cognitive functions among the elderly. Face-to-face communication will be conducted through the use of personal computers, webcams, and user-friendly simple interactive Internet programs to allow participants to have social engagement while staying at their home and also for the cost effective execution of the study.

Unfortunately, this study is only being conducted in one location in Portland, Oregon. Conversations as a Means to Delay the Onset of Alzheimer's Disease (conversation).

Some people wonder why Dotty doesn't have that dull look on her face. Well she did for about 2 years. It happened in part because I allowed her to become and remain dull. This changed when I started paying more attention to her. I can say after more than 8 years I Dotty gets more conversation and interaction today than at any time in the future. Of course, Harvey is a big positive factor in this effort.

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Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The ARR knowledge base contains more than 3,811 articles with more than 306,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room