According to the ICD-11, Dementia is characterized by the presence of marked impairment in two or more cognitive domains relative to that expected given the individual’s age and general premorbid level of cognitive functioning, which represents a decline from the individual’s previous level of functioning.
Not only does dementia involve memory impairment, but also cognitive impairment such as executive functions, attention, language, social cognition, judgment, psychomotor speed, and visuoperceptual or visuospatial abilities.
Types of Dementia
According to the National Institute of Aging, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type.
Other types include:-
● Lewy body dementia
● Dementia due to cerebrovascular disease
● Fronto temporal dementia
● Dementia due to psychoactive substances including medication
● Dementia due to metabolic causes
Some types of dementia can be reversed if caught early enough and by attending to all the factors that affect brain function – including diet, exercise, stress, nutritional deficiencies, toxins, hormonal imbalances, and inflammation while a vast majority do not have a cure yet. A lot of research has been going on to find a definitive cure and lay down a complete framework of the pathophysiology, causes, and treatment modalities.
A new cross-disciplinary approach was discovered at Edith Cowan university proposing a potential relationship between medicine and tourism in the treatment of dementia as an adjunct to non-pharmacological therapy. In their study, the authors from different disciplines including the school of public health, the department of tourism, the school of business, and law, have addressed the gaps in understanding the non-pharmacological interventions for dementia and how travel can improve well-being of dementia patients.
Advantages of Tourism in Dementia
The authors of the study have proposed that traveling has 4 main components that can help stimulate various senses, memory recollection, and behavioral change:-
1) Affective experience - includes mindfulness tourism, long-term holidays, and hedonic travel. It talks about how travel can affect emotions, feelings, and moods.
2) Cognitive experience - in the form of learning during a visit and thinking about past /future travel experiences can help ignite memories.
3) Conative experience - includes behavioral impact. Traveling puts them in a new environment and helps them interact with new people which can bring behavioral changes in patients with dementia.
4) Sensorial experience - talks about beach-related travel, landscape travel, music-related travel, and VR tourism. They can experience varied sensations through traveling that improve well-being. Music is involved while traveling and can help in experiencing new sensations.
The authors have focused on positive psychology such as reminiscing positive experiences that can benefit dementia patients. Traveling involves exercise which is one of the non-pharmacological interventions involved in dementia treatment. Traveling in a group can help improve interactions and help them to learn new things.
A lot of studies have shown the importance of travel in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. The authors of this recent study note that there is limited research on how tourism benefits diseases like dementia and believe traveling can similarly improve the well-being of such patients.
They consider their recent study can also help researchers to understand more about tourism’s medical benefits and contribute more to the non- pharmacological benefits on dementia.