Often health professionals are focused on keeping a senior’s body healthy and strong as they age, but what can sometimes be forgotten is the patient’s brain health. A study published on July 3 in Neurology Magazine found that reading, writing and doing other mentally stimulating activities at every age helps to reduce memory problems.
The study surveyed 294 older people over six years; they were given memory and thinking tests over the course of the six year study. Participants were categorized based on the amount of brain activities they did per day e.g. reading and writing. After the subjects died, their brains were examined for lesions, brain plaque and tangles, which are all signs of dementia—as the study and many other studies have found, keeping the brain active is essential for staving off dementia.
“Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person’s lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age,” said study author Robert S. Wilson, senior neuropsychologist of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the Rush University Medical Center Chicago in a press release. The participants who kept themselves mentally busy had a 15% slower rate of mental decline compared to those that did not. Those who did the most reading and writing later in life were able to slow their memory loss by 32% compared to people with average mental activity, and those that reported the lowest mental stimulation in their later years had a 48% faster memory decline compared to someone with average mental activity.
What one can conclude from this study is that cognitively stimulating activities a person does independently slow down the progression of the disease.