Raises the Possibility
By Jason Tucker
In September this year, researchers from the famous Harvard University in the US and the University of Bordeaux, in France, discovered that people over 65 years old who had taken sleeping medication within the last 15 years were 50 per cent more likely to be affected by dementia.
A huge proportion of the public took the prescription drug, usually containing either one or both of anti-anxiety medications, Temazepam and Diazepam. The drug has a calming effect on the brain, effectively changing how electrical signals are communicated to it. Long term, it seems exposure to these chemicals has some serious side-effects, namely affecting the neurotransmitters in the brain, potentially leading to dementia in later life.
Dementia affects memory, attention span, speech and language in the most common cases, causing those who suffer from it to become more and more dependent on people to care for them. While the UK government is already well behind funding research and wider support networks, it could be that doctors are advised to stop prescribing sleeping and anti-anxiety medication in order to prevent the spread of the disease from getting any larger.
That said, there are some truly fantastic support networks and care facilities around, which provide outstanding services to affected individuals and their families, too. Charities like United Response based in the UK offer a huge range of support services to suit any number of different situations.
While these are more conventional dementia support methods, there are a good handful of unconventional ones, too. The Guardian newspaper in the UK, recently reported that allowing those who suffer from dementia to be more creative actually helps waken up some of the ‘sleeping’ pathways in the brain. In short, by letting their imaginations roam and engage in something fun and fantastical, they actually boost their brain in a small way. Constant creative activity, it could well make for a more highly functioning individual.
Of course this isn’t the one and only unconventional method. Some earlier tried and tested treatments involve singing, dancing and even using musical instruments. What really matters is that each individual gets a level of care that is as unique to their needs as possible, while still allowing them to be as independent as they can. Only then will they have as high as quality of life as can be afforded to them.