Use it or lose it. That’s the latest word from brain scientists who say puzzles, handicrafts and other life skills taught as part of cognitive training programs can stave off dementia and slow its progress in seniors.
The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, found cognitive training can improve reasoning, memory, language and hand-eye coordination of healthy, older adults.
To reach their conclusions, a team of Chinese scientists tracked two groups of seniors between 65 and 75 years old. One group underwent hour-long cognitive training sessions twice a week, for 12 weeks. The other received no training. Researchers then tested the study participants’ memory, reasoning, problem solving and map reading abilities – skills important for independent living.
Chunbo Li and Wenyuan Wu, who led the research, found those who received cognitive training had “improved mental ability.” They added: “The more detailed training also improved memory, even when measured a year later."
By 2050, experts estimate the number of people over 65 years old will rise to 1.1 billion worldwide -- and 37 million will suffer from dementia.