There are many lifestyles changes you can apply to prevent or slowdown dementia, things such as eating healthy and exercising.
Unfortunately, we often translate these things into unpleasant and inconvenient activities and end up doing too little of these healthy lifestyle habits.
A new study reveals something we all love to do that includes all the attributes needed to treat dementia.
While we don’t usually think of travel as a medical therapy, a new study in the journal Tourism Management shows that it can be a type of therapy to treat dementia.
Almost no research has been done in this field, with no studies addressing the relationship between travel and dementia directly.
But a team of scientists looked at the scientific literature that discussed the benefits of various activities for dementia patients and realized that the process of traveling includes many of these activities.
They defined travel as the visiting of places outside one’s everyday environment for no longer than a year.
They believed that travel could affect our mood, memory, behavior, and senses in ways helpful to dementia patients.
Let’s examine some of the dementia-friendly activities and processes that they found were part of the travel experience.
1. Cognitive stimulation. Travel requires planning, which is an intense cognitive activity. It also exposes us to new places, facts, and ideas that stimulate thoughts and knowledge.
2. Sensory stimulation. Compared with, for example, sitting in your living room watching television, travel offers sounds, sights, odors, and movements that stimulate your senses and the corresponding parts of your brain to the max.
3. Exercise. When we travel, we typically walk a lot more without feeling like we’re engaging in a boring exercise program. Sufficiently healthy people can also take part in other physical activities such as diving, swimming, cycling, and so on.
4. Social interaction. Tourism exposes us to many different people, which can increase brain function. Even simple actions such as asking for directions or listening to a tour guide involve more social interaction than we receive at home.
5. Reminiscence. Many studies have found reminiscence therapy to be useful for dementia patients because of memory stimulation and positive emotions, which suggests that tours to previously visited places might work too.
6. Music therapy. As music therapy serves as an effective dementia treatment, it can be easily combined with tourism by encouraging patients to attend concerts and visit cultural festivals and other environments that involve music.
7. Vitamin D and serotonin. Walking in fresh air and sunshine can increase our levels of vitamin D and serotonin which can, in turn, reduce inflammation in our bodies and lead to a more positive mood.
Needless to say, there are many holiday activities that cannot have therapeutic value in these ways; pub crawling for example.
But those tourist activities that fulfil the requirements above can improve positive emotions, brain function, and overall wellbeing, which is well worth it for dementia patients.