Games & Crafts May Save Aging Brains

Taken from Lindsey Tanner, Associated Press

Even in your 70’s and beyond, simple activities including web-surfing, playing bridge and socializing 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.  And, you don’t need costly computer based games to keep the brain sharp–those were not studied.  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 Yonas Geda, the study’s senior author and neurologist at the Mayo Clinic’s Scottsdale, Arizona campus.  The study was published in the journal JAMA Neurology recently.  Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer’s Association indicates 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 keep the mind sharp:  computer use, making crafts, playing games including chess or bridge, going to movies or other types of socializing 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 and other types of dementia.

Almost 2,000 adults aged 70 to 93 without any memory problems participated.  Analysis found a protective effect from each activity, except for reading books.  Study participants who engaged in any of the other activities at least once weekly were 20% to 30% less likely to develop the condition over the four years than those who never did those activities.

At Applewood Senior Living Communities, we offer a variety of daily activities designed for our residents who have memory issues.  Contact us for a tour and to see what makes Applewood unique!

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