Those participating in these activities or using computers half as likely to develop mild dementia, study found
WebMD News from HealthDay
By Tara Haelle
WEDNESDAY, April 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who pursue artistic, craft and social activities may stay mentally sharp longer, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that older adults involved in these activities or those who used a computer later in life were about half as likely to experience mild dementia over the next four years.
"Engaging in cognitively stimulating activities has beneficial long-term effects on cognitive [thinking] function," said study author Rosebud Roberts, chair of the division of epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The study could not show that these activities actually prevented declines in thinking, but it found the risk was lower among those participating in them. The findings were published in the April 8 online edition of the journal Neurology.
The researchers tracked 256 adults, aged 85 and older, over four years. Nearly half developed mild dementia during that time.
Aside from differences in sex and education, those who took part in artistic pursuits throughout midlife and late life were 73 percent less likely to experience mild dementia.
Similarly, those involved in crafts and social activities both in midlife and later life were about half as likely to experience mild dementia. So were those who used computers in later life, the investigators found.
It's possible that sharper adults are more likely to seek out these activities in the first place, but the findings still suggest the participation contributes to brain health, Roberts said.
"We found that if you were engaged in these activities in midlife, regardless of late life, or in both midlife and late life, your risk of cognitive [thinking] decline was reduced," she said. "In the few people who only began these activities in late life, there was also a benefit, but this was not statistically different from those who never participated in these activities."
Dr. Anton Porsteinsson, director of Alzheimer's Disease Care at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York, said the findings fit with past research showing that artistic and social activities appear to help protect against mental decline.
source : Arts, Crafts, Socializing May Buoy the Aging Brain