Surprising hobby could help older people stave off dementia – new study

A new study carried out in Australia has suggested activities such as keeping a diary, writing letters and using a computer could reduce the risk of developing dementia in older adults.

The research analysed data from more than 10,000 individuals aged found those who participated in more literacy-related activities were 11 percent less likely to develop dementia in a 10-year period.

The study also found other mental activities, such as playing games, doing puzzles and crosswords was linked to a 9 percent reduced risk of dementia.

Doing creative things like woodwork or painting led to a 7 percent lower risk of dementia.

Social outings and interactions did not appear to have a significant effect on dementia risk.

In the journal Jama Network Open the team, from Monash University in Melbourne, said: “These results suggest that engagement in adult literacy, creative art, and active and passive mental activities may help reduce dementia risk in late life.

“For older adults, lifestyle enrichment may be particularly important because it could help prevent dementia through modifications to daily routines.

“An enriched lifestyle with diverse leisure activities may reflect an optimistic personality and confer cognitive benefits by stimulating the growth of neurons and synapses and promoting well-being.”

The researchers said their findings may help improve policies for elderly care and focus on dementia prevention for older adults.

Research first presented at the 2021 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference and published in The Lancet showed global dementia cases set to triple, with 153 million people living with dementia by 2050.

Population growth and ageing are thought to be driving factors, and researchers suggest the highest increases in dementia cases will likely come from sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East.

While getting older is the biggest risk factor for dementia, Alzheimer’s Society recommends some other simple lifestyle tweaks to reduce your risk:

  • Keep being physically active
  • Eat healthily
  • Don’t smoke
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Take control of your health

The charity advises: “As you get older, you are more likely to develop certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. These conditions can increase the risk of getting dementia.

“An important way to avoid this is by going for a health check.”

In England, your GP may incite you to an NHS Health Check, or you can book an appointment by contacting them

In Wales, you can use the ‘Add to Your Life’ free online health and wellbeing check.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can book a free ‘Well Check’ via Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke (NICHS) charity.

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