Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that engaging in any kind of brain-stimulating activities like reading and writing at any age can reduce the risk of developing dementia in old age.
Experts have previously established that reading and writing have many positive attributes, especially in stimulating the brain. Now researchers have found that engaging in such brain-stimulating activities at any age can reduce the risk of developing dementia at an older age.
294 people in their 80s took part in the study and were tested on their memory and cognitive abilities. These tests were taken six years before their deaths. Apart from these tests, they were asked to answer a questionnaire about their reading and writing habits and if they took part in any other brain-stimulating activities during childhood, adolescence, middle age and at their current age.
"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, PhD, with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago in a press statement.
Researchers found that people who took part in mental stimulating activities both early and late in life showed a slower rate of memory loss than people who didn't indulge in such activities. This difference measured up to 15 percent.
"Based on this, we shouldn't underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents," said Wilson.
People who frequently engaged in brain-stimulating activities later in life also experienced a 32 percent slower memory loss rate when compared to people with average mental activity. Moreover, people who never engaged in such activities showed a 48 percent faster memory power decline.
Dementia is one of the fastest growing diseases is the world and more than 24 million people are affected by it. An earlier American Psychological Association report stated that intelligent people continue to remain mentally healthy for a longer period of time because they are constantly engaging in such brain-stimulating activities. This study looked to find a solution as to how dementia can be prevented at older ages.
The study is published in the journal Neurology.