Games, crafts, other activities may safeguard aging brain
Even in your 70s and beyond, simple activities, including web-surfing, playing bridge, and socialising can stave off mental decline, new research says.
Benefits were greatest in computer users and in those without a gene variation linked with Alzheimer's disease. But even among seniors with that trait, mental decline that sometimes precedes dementia was less common among those who engaged in mind-stimulating activities.
The benefits were found from activities that many seniors have access to.
"They don't have to spend their life savings" on fancy gadgets, said Dr Yonas Geda, the study's senior author and a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic's Scottsdale, Arizona, campus.
The study was published yesterday in the journal JAMA Neurology. The researchers noted that the statistical link they found with reduced risk does not prove that the activities were responsible.
GOOD FOR BRAIN HEALTH
Still, said Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer's Association, the results support the idea that "being engaged mentally is good for brain health".
The study looked at five types of activities that are thought to help keep the mind sharp: computer use; making crafts; playing games, including chess or bridge; going to movies or other types of socialising; and reading books. The idea was to see if these activities could help prevent mild cognitive impairment. That condition involves problems with memory, thinking, and attention that don't interfere much with daily life but which increase risks for developing Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.