Lifetime of Learning Might Thwart Dementia, Study Suggests

lifetimeoflearningA lifetime engaging in intellectually stimulating pursuits may significantly lower your risk for dementia in your golden years, new research suggests.

Even people with relatively low educational and professional achievements can gain protection against late-life dementia if they adopt a mentally stimulating lifestyle — reading and playing music and games, for example — by the time they enter middle-age, the new study contended.

“In terms of preventing cognitive [mental] impairment, education and occupation are important,” said study lead author Prashanthi Vemuri, an assistant professor of radiology at the Mayo Clinic and Foundation in Rochester, Minn. “But so is intellectually stimulating activity during mid- to late life,” she added.

“This is very encouraging news, because even if you don’t have a lot of education, or get exposure to a lot of intellectual stimulation during non-leisure activity, intellectual leisure activity later in life can really help,” she said.

Artistic endeavors — including crafts — participation in group activities and computer work also benefit the aging brain, according to the study, published in the June 23 online issue of JAMA Neurology.

Seniors in the United States accounted for roughly 35 million people in 2000, and that figure is projected to more than double by 2030, the study authors said. Keeping seniors’ brains healthy is considered a public health imperative.

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