SCIENCE NEWS: Study Finds Books and Games May Help Prevent Dementia, Alzheimer’s

A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry associated activities like reading books or magazines, playing board games or cards, or even betting on horse racing with a lower risk of dementia in older adults.

The study followed a group of 15,582 adults over the age of 65 and accounted for all other lifestyle factors that could contribute to age-related diseases. Researchers found that the lower risk of developing dementia was independent of other known lifestyle habits that can help prevent dementia, like eating a plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet, and exercising.

“Given the growing older population worldwide, promoting regular engagement in intellectual activities might help delay or prevent dementia,” researchers said.

Other research supports reading as a method of disease prevention showing that those who read or participate in other similar cognitive practices experience slower memory decline than those who do not.

While this study associated reading and other cognitive behaviors with a lowered risk that was independent of other variables like exercise, another study has demonstrated the power of physical activity.

The study published by Neurology showed that middle aged women who were “very fit” were 88 percent less likely to develop dementia later in life.

“Fitness, particularly in mid-life, may translate into your risk of dementia down the road,” said Dr. Tara Narula.

So, what is it that truly makes a difference when it comes to protecting yourself against dementia? People from the blue zones areas have some of the lowest rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s in the world. In these areas, it is a combination of their lifestyle factors (diet, exercise, community/social network) that work together to prevent a variety of age-related diseases. Their extreme longevity is not due to a silver bullet, but instead a silver buckshot.

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