The other day I was listening to a podcast and letting my mind wander. The podcast was Radio National’s All in the Mind and the topic up for discussion was daydreaming and dementia.
Do you daydream? I hope you do!
Daydreaming has a bad rap, but as it turns out, we should not be so hard on ourselves when we wander off. Daydreaming is a very healthy brain activity and while it may get you into trouble if you are zoned out when someone (like your boss) is trying to get your attention, the fact that you CAN daydream, especially if you are older, is an indication of a healthier brain.
Researchers at the University of Sydney have found that
“people living with frontotemporal dementia – a form of younger-onset dementia – lose the ability to daydream. ”
We let our minds wander a lot! Up to 50% of waking time. Daydreaming allows us to explore the unknown, practice conversations and confrontations, escape from reality, plan and problem solve. I know I write my best stories when I am out running! Pity I don’t remember them when I get back! 🙂
People with frontotemporal dementia lose this ability and remain rooted in the present and stimulus bound.
“They become increasingly focused on what is immediately in front of them, such as watching TV, listening to a piece of music, or eating food.”
They lose the ability to create their own internal world.
I have a particular interest in dementia and have done lots of reading on the topic and even an online course through the University of Tasmania. I am concerned about developing dementia (and arthritis!). Being an old chook (a female over 55), I am getting dangerously close to dementia being a real thing in my life. While I can’t change the genetic road map I have been given or do much about getting older, I can do my best to look after the modifiable factors that influence dementia risk.
It turns out that the sorts of things we have been told to do to maintain heart health will also look after the brain and the joints because they reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a big contributor to both these conditions. We need to ensure that we keep our blood pressure at a healthy level, stay active and keep moving, maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet which is based mainly in plants, never smoke and drink alcohol cautiously. Easy!
While there are some promising studies that may lead to a cure for dementia, it’s not likely to be in my lifetime. So just excuse me while I go and stare out the window and think up some new dreams!
Just by the by, if you are interested in things to do with the brain and psychology, the All in the Mind podcast is fabulous. I must say I have a bit of girl-crush on Lynne Malcolm, the show’s presenter!
(As this is published I’ll be in an aeroplane somewhere returning home after my epic Scottish adventure)