Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder in which memory loss and cognitive decline are caused by the death of brain cells. It is a neurodegenerative type of dementia in which the disease starts mild, gets progressively worse and causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of “dementia”, a general term used to describe the loss of mental ability associated with the gradual death of brain cells and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with everyday activities.
As it applies to all types of dementia, Alzheimer’s is caused by the death of brain cells. As a result of brain cells death, the total brain size flinches with Alzheimer’s because the tissue has fewer nerve cells and connections.
In order to be able to confirm the disease, the doctors must first be satisfied that there is dementia so as to make an initial diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the memory loss is mild, but over the time in the late-stage, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment and carry on conversations.
There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease for now because the dead brain cells in dementia cannot rejuvenate or reversed. However, there is much backing for therapeutic interventions to assist people to live with Alzheimer’s disease more healthily.
The important elements of dementia care are as follows:
- Effective and efficient management of any conditions occurring alongside the Alzheimer’s
- Engaging in activities and/or programs of adult day care
- Provision of support groups and services
The progression of Alzheimer’s can be broken down into three basic stages:
- Preclinical (no signs or symptoms yet)
- Mild cognitive impairment
Alzheimer’s disease is not unconnected with some things which are not seen so often in people without the disorder. These factors may, therefore, have some direct connection with the presence of the disease. Some of these factors are preventable or modifiable factors (for example, reducing the risk of some terminal diseases like diabetes or heart disease).
Risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Age is a factor: The disorder is common in older people, and a greater proportion of over-85-year-olds are more vulnerable than of over-65s.
- Family history (inheritance of genes): This is another risk factor after age as having Alzheimer’s in the family lineage is associated with higher risk for the upcoming offspring.
- Presence of the apolipoprotein E or APOE gene: Having a certain gene like the apolipoprotein E or APOE gene puts a person, depending on their specific genetics, at risk.
- Factors that increase blood vessel (vascular) risk like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure may contribute to the presence of Alzheimer’s. This is because these factors increase the risk of stroke, which itself can lead to another type of dementia.
- Low education level: This may on its own be among the risk factors of Alzheimer’s because this may give rise to some of the symptoms of dementia.
- Prior head accident/injury: Though a traumatic brain injury does not necessarily lead to Alzheimer’s, some research links have been drawn, with increasing risk tied to the severity of trauma history.
- Sleep disorders: Inability to have a much quality and sound sleep can contribute to the existence of dementia as it is known that sleep is very much crucial in brain function.
The most common presentation marking Alzheimer’s dementia manifest when there are symptoms of memory loss, especially in the area of learning and recalling new information. But the initial presentation can be one of mainly language problems (poorly articulated speech), in which case the greatest symptom is struggling to find the right words.
Playing Chess, is it a treatment that works?
Chess is an indoor game that is particularly a good brain builder which is fairly easy to learn. It takes a little practice but it can be played very quickly and the possibilities of play are endless. Chess seems like a treatment that works because it is an indoor game, easy to play and stimulates the brain by lending itself to a variety of complexities from various patterns to complex calculations. People who engage in such activities that help rebuild the brain were less likely to develop signs of dementia. It is all believed that playing games can be fun and challenging, but if maintaining brain fitness is actually the interest, then games and activities that stimulate all six cognitive areas of the brain at the same time are the most beneficial.
The Six Cognitive Areas
- Short-term memory which is used in remembering information shortly after it has been understood.
- Long-term memory which is used when recalling something from the vast store of information that is in the brain.
- Language, which translates to the use and form of words.
- Calculation, in this context it means the use of numbers and also involves assessing the risks, possibilities or effects of a course of action. So playing chess is a simple way to exercise calculation skills.
- Visual-spatial which refers to the visual perception of objects.
- Critical thinking which is the ability to analyze and evaluate situations
The idea of playing Chess as a measure to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s is based on putting into use and exercising all the six cognitive areas of the brain because Chess is known to touch every one of those cognitive areas.
In conclusion, when playing games are aimed at reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s, the type, variety, and frequency of the games played are key factors to be considered. Playing games that are brain tasking like chess can stimulate minds, increase social interactions with others and possibly reduce stress. Chess is a kind of game which requires a lot of brain power, as such, it has been confirmed that it can improve a person’s memory thereby help to slow Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Though Chess can be diverting, amusing, engrossing, perplexing, exasperating, infuriating, and a few other things, but is it good for mental health.