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Stay mentally active to prevent dementia

Elders who solve crossword puzzles, play cards, involve themselves in artistic activities and watch movie or plays may halve their risk for dementia.

Stay mentally active to prevent dementia

Elders who solve crossword puzzles, play cards, involve themselves in artistic activities and watch movie or plays may halve their risk for dementia.

Past studies on the involvement in leisure activities and dementia risk have yielded inconsistent results. To see whether leisure activity contributes to cognitive reserve (mind's resilience to neurological damage of the brain), researchers examined 5,698 French men and women, 65 years and older, who were free of dementia at the outset of the study. The researchers categorised leisure activity as stimulating, passive, physical, and social. During the four years of follow-up, 161 of these elders developed dementia.

Dementia risk was 50 percent lower among community-living elders who reported such mentally stimulating activities at least twice weekly versus less than once weekly. Mind-stimulating leisure time pursuits, like crossword puzzles, were found to be significantly associated with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease over the 4-years follow up period. By contrast, no protective effect was seen with physical, passive, and social leisure activities such as doing odd jobs, gardening, walking, watching television, listening to the radio, or visiting friends.

These observations were independent of education level, occupation, and brain functioning at the beginning of the study. The associations also remained strong after allowing for gender, age, marital status and health-related history, such as blood vessel disease, depression, and physical health. The reduced risk of dementia observed in elders regularly doing mentally stimulating activities was also independent of physical, social, and passive forms of leisure activities.

These above findings indicate that mentally stimulating leisure activities help protect from dementia.

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