Activities to prevent memory loss

Picking up a paintbrush, deck of cards, computer or even dinner with friends can help prevent memory loss.

Researchers found that engaging in mentally stimulating activities, even later in life, may protect against new-onset of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and lower the risk of memory loss among those with a genetic predisposition. Their findings were published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

Researchers observed participants who engaged in computer use, craft activities, social activities and playing games at least once a week were 20 to 30 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment during the four-year study than those who did not. Benefits were also seen among APOE ε4 carriers who engaged in these activities. Reading books was the only studied activity to not have a statistically significant decrease.

 “Our study could not disentangle why some mentally stimulating activities (eg, computer use) had a larger effect size on the decreased risk of incident MCI than other activities (eg, reading books),” the authors write. “However, we speculate that a particular mental activity (eg, computer use) may require specific technical and manual skills and that these could be the factors that might be associated with a decreased risk of cognitive decline.”

Computer use did not include computer-based games for brain health.

Researchers followed a sample of more than 1,900 participants age 70 and older identified as cognitively normal at baseline. Participants completed questionnaires about engaging in mentally stimulating activities and were evaluated at 15-month intervals. They were recruited from the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging and resided in Olmstead County, Minnesota. 

Topics: Activities , Alzheimer's/Dementia