It can be scary to think that maybe one day you won’t remember someone’s name, or your own birthday, or who your loved ones are. Unfortunately, as populations continue to grow old, there are more and more people struggling with memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. The worst part yet is there isn’t a cure for these conditions, so your biggest defense is to try and delay and prevent memory loss from happening as best as possible.
Some preventative methods of memory loss include eating a brain-boosting diet, playing mind games, and learning a new skill or language. But researchers now suggest another that which can delay memory loss.
The research was conducted by the University of Missouri, who found that volunteering your time could help improve cognitive function among older adults. Previous studies have found positive benefits among volunteering and improved physical health.
Volunteering often involves many different skills including problem-solving, being active, and other brain stimulating activities.
Christine Proulx of the University explained, “Cognitive functions, such as memory, working memory, and processing are essential for living an independent life. They’re the tools and methods the brain uses to process information. It’s the brain’s working memory and processing capacity that benefit the most from volunteering.”
Working memory receives the biggest boost through volunteering. The term refers to the brain’s ability to manage and store information temporarily and is often the first type of memory to go in dementia patients. Long-term memory tends to take longer to lose.
Processing capacity also benefits from volunteering which is the ability to take in and store information. Dementia patients have increasing difficulties to take in and store information and so responses may become delayed as a result.
The researchers looked at the impact of volunteering on 11,000 older adult brains. They found that volunteering benefitted participants regardless of the amount of time spent volunteering.
So, if you’re a senior, regardless of whether or not you’re at risk of dementia, it may still be a wise choice to
partake in volunteering your time. Not only will this protect your brain, but you can experience physical benefits too.