Older adults require more attention, more care and love from their family members. These days, people above the age of 60 reconcile themselves to the fact that with old age they will face gradual memory loss and other age-related diseases. The ageing population is increasing all over the world due to more comfort, better lifestyle, life-support systems and healthy foods. But, many senior citizens are forgetting the names of their loved ones. Corrective options are not far away. ‘Adding life to years’ is the need of the day.
Dementia is a severe loss of cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person and beyond what might be expected from normal ageing. Dementia may occur independently or be associated with Parkinson’s disease or stroke. As we age, the brain starts losing neurons which in turn affects short-term memory. Dementia or memory loss that includes the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease silently makes the afflicted person’s life slow and difficult.
In dementia, the Vata-dosha gets aggravated and Kapha is depleted. Kapha is the base of all activities related to memory and is unctuous personified. The brain is in a state of unctuousness, that is, its cells are well lubricated with all essential fluids including neurotransmitters without any blockage. The memory of a person will be intact if Kapha facilitates this condition.
Management of Dementia:
Dementia is not an easy condition to treat. It needs medicines, lifestyle changes, good diet and proper counselling. Nidana Parivarjana (avoidance of causative factors) is an important component of the treatment. Exposure to toxic substances and excessive consumption of alcohol should be avoided. Metabolic, endocrine disorder and vascular diseases, if any, should be managed primarily.
For people in tropical countries, taking a daily oil massage or at least once a week proves to be quite beneficial. It improves the functions of the neural system and activates the cells. Seven days of Dhara with oils such as Lakshadi mixed with Ksheerabala is very effective. Dhara serves as an important tool to improve memory. Medicines prepared from Ashwagandha, Satavari, Brahmi and Amla are quite helpful in the management of dementia. It is most important to improve the digestive and tissue metabolism because proper assimilation of food or medicine is a prerequisite for improvement of these conditions. Consumption of small quantities of cow’s ghee (one teaspoon) added with a little bit of Ashta choornam (one-fourth teaspoon), one teaspoon of Brahmi juice (Bacopamonnieri) and half teaspoon of onion juice in the morning on an empty stomach for 41 days is a beneficial prescription for dementia. Application of cooling hair oils like Brahmithailam etc. is also advisable.
A few tips to prevent and manage dementia:
Pure cow’s ghee is actually the nectar of life. Daily use of ghee with hot food at least once a day helps maintain a healthy long life. Ghee is the only food which Ayurveda considers synonymous with longevity. There are some medicinal plants which are very useful in improving memory and increasing alertness.
- The root of Shankapushpi (Clitoriaternatea) is an excellent remedy. The dried root (20 gm) is boiled in 200 ml milk for 15 minutes, filtered and taken at bedtime for 41 days.
- lvacha (Acorus calamus): One gram mixed with honey
- Panchagavya Ghritam: One teaspoon in the morning on an empty stomach followed by warm water is an excellent remedy for this condition. Panchagavya Ghritam will not cause any harm such as an increase in cholesterol.
- Yogic practices – Yogasana and Pranayama will help to manage the condition. Shavasana, Sarvangasana, Matsyasana, Anuloma-Viloma, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika, and Trataka are some yogic exercises which should be done under a yoga therapist’s guidance.
- Use of green vegetables and yellow fruits (apple, papaya, guava, mango, banana etc.).
- Rich antioxidant foods like carrot, milk, mango, gooseberries.
- Avoidance of incompatible and hot spicy food articles.
- Above all, caring and affection from family members and friends will add many happy years to old age. Depending upon the person’s physical and mental attributes some modifications may be necessary for this treatment protocol, but generally, the above-explained advice will be very useful.