It’s finally settled. The best way to protect yourself from dementia is to keep your brain stimulated, one major review suggests.
People who regularly read books, play musical instruments, or keep a personal diary are 23 percent less likely to develop the condition.
The analysis of dozens of studies involving 2 million middle-aged and older people also found that physical activity was best for keeping the brain sharp.
Regular exercise, doing yoga or dancing was found to have a protective effect of 17 percent.
And people with lively social lives appear to have a 7 percent lower risk of dementia than loners.
Researchers said joining a club, volunteering, spending time with friends and family, or going to religious events all had a positive effect.
Lead author Professor Lin Lu, from Pecking University in Beijing, said: ‘This meta-analysis suggests that being active has its benefits, and there are plenty of activities that can be easily incorporated into everyday life that can be beneficial for the brain. ‘
Researchers from Pecking University in Beijing examined patterns in hobbies and dementia cases in 2.1 million people. The findings show that those who engaged in mental tasks — such as reading, writing and even watching TV — were a quarter less likely to be diagnosed with dementia. Meanwhile, staying active reduced the risk by a fifth and meeting others reduced the chance by a tenth
People who regularly read books, play musical instruments or keep a personal diary are 23 percent less likely to develop the condition
Their results were published in the magazine Neurology.
WHAT IS DEMENTIA? THE KILLER DISEASE THAT DEPRIVES SUFFERING OF THEIR MEMORIES
A GLOBAL CARE
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (affecting the brain) that affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
There are many different forms of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common.
Some people may have a combination of dementias.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia is a global problem, but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live very old.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE INVOLVED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports that there are more than 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK today. This is expected to increase to 1.6 million by 2040.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting between 50 and 75 percent of people diagnosed.
There are an estimated 6 million Alzheimer’s patients in the US. A similar percentage increase is expected in the coming years.
As a person gets older, the risk of developing dementia also increases.
The number of diagnoses is improving, but it is thought that many people with dementia are still undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
Currently, there is no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow progression, and the sooner it’s noticed, the more effective treatments are.
Source: Alzheimer’s Society
Around 900,000 people in the UK are thought to be living with dementia, and this percentage is expected to increase with an aging population.
The figure is nearly seven times higher in the US, with 6.2 million affected by the memory-robbing condition.
There is no cure for the disease, which means doctors can only prescribe medications that reduce symptoms.
Doctors recommend a balanced diet and regular exercise, and there’s some evidence that both may protect against dementia.
The meta-analysis included a review of 38 studies from around the world involving 2.1 million people who did not have dementia.
They were between 45 and 93 years old at the start of the study.
The participants were then followed for between three and 44 years. Over the course of the study period, 74,700 people developed dementia.
Information about their hobbies was provided through questionnaires or interviews.
Leisure activities were defined as activities in which people engaged in pleasure or well-being.
They were divided into mental, physical and social activities.
Spiritual activities include reading or writing for pleasure, watching television, listening to the radio, playing games or musical instruments, using a computer, and making things.
The researchers said these hobbies help maintain and improve memory, processing speed, thinking and reasoning skills, and prevent mental decline.
But they said the television viewing findings were still inconclusive. Previous studies have shown that people are more likely to get the disease if they watch a lot of television because their minds shut down for a longer period of time.
Physical activities in the studies included walking, running, swimming, cycling, using exercise machines, exercising, yoga and dancing.
Exercise has been shown to keep the heart healthy and blood circulation normal.
Heart problems can increase the risk of dementia by cutting off blood flow to the brain, starving the neurons of oxygen and accelerating cell death.
Attending a class, joining a social club, volunteering, visiting family or friends, or attending religious activities were among the most popular social activities in the analysis.
Researchers believe that spending time with others may protect the brain by increasing social contact and emotional stimulation, while reducing the risk of depression and stress — two risk factors for dementia.
Professor Lu, a neuroscientist at the Chinese University, said: ‘Previous studies have shown that leisure activities were associated with several health benefits, such as a lower risk of cancer, a reduction in atrial fibrillation and a person’s perception of their own well-being. .
‘However, there is conflicting evidence for the role of leisure activities in the prevention of dementia. Our research showed that leisure activities such as crafts, sports or volunteering were associated with a reduced risk of dementia.’
He said future studies should include a larger group of people and follow participants longer to “reveal more links between leisure activities and dementia.”
The team noted that the findings relied on volunteers reporting their own activities, so there may be some inaccuracies.