Is this the key to preventing dementia?

Activities for seniors that keep the brain busy may not just be for fun. Crafting, using a computer, playing games and participating in social activities all appear to lower the risk of age-related mental decline in people age 70 and older, according to a new article published online by JAMA Neurology. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) was measured in the study. MCI is the intermediate zone between normal cognitive aging and dementia. The study included 1,929 adults in Minnesota who were followed up to four years, at which point 456 participants had developed MCI. Although the study wasn't designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship, those who regularly engaged in certain mind-stimulating activities had a lower risk of memory and thinking troubles. For example, researchers saw this risk go down by computer use, crafting, social activities and playing games. The researchers found that people who performed these activities at least one to two times per week had less decline in memory and thinking skills than people who did these activities only two to three times per month or less. “Future research is needed to understand the mechanisms linking mentally-stimulating activities and cognition in late life,” the study concludes. Sue Durkin, advanced practice nurse for geriatrics at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., adds, “Making healthy choices with food, engaging in activities with all age groups, having a spiritual focus and exercising have all been factors related to a long life and may help to stave off dementia.”