Use it or lose it
Not engaging the mind in stimulating activities may contribute to memory loss in middle to older aged adults. According to findings from Yonas E. Geda, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues, middle-age and older adults that engage in mentally stimulating activities such as reading or social activities, as opposed to passive activities like watching TV, may reduce the odds of mild cognitive impairment by more than 40%. For adults over the age of 65, playing games, reading, using a computer, making crafts, and limiting TV, were associated with 30% to 50% lower risk of mild cognitive impairment. The following is an excerpt of a study from Medpage Today that reviews the findings in more depth:
In prior studies, stronger social ties have been linked to delayed cognitive decline and lower incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease while other mentally-stimulating activities like video games have been seen to improve cognitive performance in older age. (See: Socially Active Seniors Stay Sharp and Video Games May Improve Cognition in the Older Population)
To see what effect activities have on risk of mild cognitive impairment, Dr. Geda’s group conducted a case-control study within an ongoing population-based study in Olmsted County, Minn.
The analysis included a random sample of 1,321 patient’s ages 70 to 89 surveyed on cognitive activities within the prior year and, retrospectively, in mid-life at ages 50 to 65.
Among the participants, 197 had mild cognitive impairment, which Dr. Geda referred to as the “grey zone between normal cognitive aging and dementia.”