Reading and engaging in other intellectual pursuits may help prevent dementia, a study published Wednesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests.
Researchers studied 15 ,582 dementia-free people age 65 years or older living in Hong Kong for a median period of five years. During that period, the participants were asked about any “intellectual activities” they pursued, including reading and playing cards and board games.
By the end of the study, 1,300 people had developed dementia. But the study found those who kept their minds active were less likely to develop problems in that area.
“Daily participation in intellectual activities was associated with a significantly lower risk of dementia several years later independent of other health behaviors, physical health limitations, and sociodemographic factors,” according to JAMA.
“Given the growing older population worldwide, promoting regular engagement in intellectual activities might help delay or prevent dementia,” the study said.
The researchers found, however, that that regular engagement in intellectual activities wasn’t an absolute preventative to dementia.
This latest report confirms earlier findings published by Neurology, the American Academy of Neurology’s medical journal that reading helps keep Alzheimer's at bay.
“Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person’s lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age,” study author Robert S. Wilson of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center said in the journal Neurology.
The idea of reading to stave off dementia received support on social media.
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