In a study of more than 700 elderly, community-dwelling individuals, a cognitively inactive person was 2.6 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than a cognitively active person.Alzheimer's Reading Room
"The implications are much more from a public health perspective than a clinical perspective," said Dr. Robert Bennett. "As a society, how do we encourage all people, not just seniors, to engage in cognitive activities?"Dr. Bennett noted that cognitive activity is just one aspect of staving off memory loss. Physical activity and social activity play a role. The group published a study last year showing that cognitive function was higher in individuals with larger social networks.
Frequent Brain Stimulation in Old Age Reduces Risk for Alzheimer's Disease
How often older adults read a newspaper, play chess, or engage in other mentally stimulating activities is related to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center published in the online edition of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
For the study, more than 700 people in Chicago with an average age of 80 underwent yearly cognitive testing for up to five years. Participants were part of the Rush Memory and Aging Project, a longitudinal study of more than 1,200 older people. Of the participants, 90 developed Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers also performed a brain autopsy on the 102 participants who died.
The study found that a cognitively active person in old age was 2.6 times less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than a cognitively inactive person in old age. This association remained after controlling for past cognitive activity, lifetime socioeconomic status, and current social and physical activity.
Researchers say the findings may be used to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Wilson says the study also found frequent cognitive activity during old age such as visiting a library or attending a play, was associated with reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment, a transitional stage between normal aging and dementia, and less rapid decline in cognitive function.
The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
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