Reading and writing letters can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease for up to five YEARS
Keeping your brain active later in life could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease for up to five years.
This includes playing board games and card games, doing puzzles, reading and writing letters.
One study asked nearly 2,000 older people how much time they spent doing these and similar activities in the past year.
Of those who developed dementia, the people who spent the most time keeping their brains active developed the disease at an average age of 93.
Reading and writing letters and playing card games or puzzles later in life can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease for up to five years, according to a study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
People who spent less time in mentally demanding activities had Alzheimer’s disease at an average age of 88, five years earlier.
Professor Robert Wilson, lead author of the study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said, “The good news is that it’s never too late to start doing the kinds of accessible and inexpensive activities that we looked at in our study.
“Our results suggest that it may be beneficial to start doing these things, even at age 80, to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia.”
The study, published in the journal Neurology, involved 1,903 people between the ages of 53 and 100.
They were asked how much time they spent reading each day, then six more questions about how they kept their brains active.
Over the past year, volunteers reported how often they had visited a library, read newspapers, magazines and books, wrote letters, and played games or puzzles.
Popular examples included crossword puzzles, chess, and card games.
The researchers looked at these mentally challenging activities because they are believed to strengthen connections in the brain, making people less likely to develop dementia.
If the “use or lose” brain activity theory was correct, those who spent more time keeping their brains active would be diagnosed later.
This turned out to be the case among the 497 people in the study who developed dementia, after undergoing annual tests and check-ups until age 22.
The top 10 percent on questions on activities like reading and puzzles developed dementia by an average age of 93.6.
Those with the lowest 10 percent scored on average five years earlier.
People who kept their brains active developed Alzheimer’s disease later than those who did it less, even taking into account education, sex, social isolation and loneliness.
These can all increase the risk of dementia, so were calculated for study participants.
Researchers feared that people who performed less mentally demanding tasks had already suffered from dementia premature.
It could have given the impression that people who didn’t do crossword puzzles had contracted Alzheimer’s disease earlier, when in fact the disease caused them to stop doing crossword puzzles.
However, analysis of the brains of 695 people who died in the study showed that those who engaged in mental activities less often did not show signs of dementia premature.
Professor Wilson said: “Our study shows that people who engage in more cognitively stimulating activities may delay the age at which they develop dementia.
WHAT IS ALZHEIMER?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain, in which the accumulation of abnormal proteins causes the death of nerve cells.
This disrupts the transmitters that carry the messages and causes the brain to shrink.
More than 5 million people have the disease in the United States, where it is the 6th leading cause of death, and more than one million Britons are affected.
As brain cells die, the functions they perform are lost.
This includes memory, orientation, and the ability to think and reason.
The progression of the disease is slow and gradual.
On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some can live ten to 15 years.
Short-term memory loss Disorientation Behavior changes Mood swings Difficulty managing money or making a phone call
Severe memory loss, forgetting close family members, objects or familiar places Becoming anxious and frustrated with inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior Eventually losing the ability to walk May have problems to eat The majority will eventually need 24-hour care
Source: Alzheimer Association