"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Study: Crossword puzzles and handicrafts contribute to dementia prevention

July 17, 2023 – A brand new study shows that older individuals who use computers, take classes or do crossword puzzles may enjoy activities that ultimately reduce their risk of dementia.

Previous research has linked routines, activities and hobbies, which researchers call “lifestyle enrichment,” to higher pondering skills and changes within the brain.

In a summary of previous studies, the authors wrote that “a varied lifestyle with a variety of leisure activities may reflect an optimistic personality and provide cognitive benefits by stimulating the growth of neurons and synapses and promoting well-being.”

The aim of this current study was to seek out out whether older individuals who engage in leisure activities or have a big social network have a lower risk of dementia.

Published on Friday in JAMA network openedThe Australian research team analyzed data from 10,318 people without major problems with their mental abilities, who were 70 years of age and older, 53% of whom were women and 98% white. They were observed for 10 years, the remark period ending in 2020. During this time, 3% of them developed dementia.

“People with dementia were older, a greater proportion were men, and they were more likely to have lower levels of physical activity and be in poorer health than people without dementia,” the authors wrote.

One of the strengths of the brand new study was that it checked out 19 sorts of activities and social networks and likewise adjusted for health status and education level, since individuals who take part in activities are inclined to be healthier. Using this approach, the researchers said, they were in a position to determine whether certain sorts of activities were more helpful than others, they usually were also in a position to determine whether there was a lower risk of dementia no matter an individual's existing health problems or education level.

In detail, they stated:

  • An 11% reduced risk of dementia in individuals who performed adult literacy activities corresponding to writing letters, keeping a diary, using a pc, and attending educational courses.
  • A 9% reduced risk of dementia in individuals who engaged in lively mental activities corresponding to crossword puzzles, games, cards or chess
  • A 7% reduced risk of dementia in individuals who reported painting, drawing, or doing handicrafts, woodwork, or metalwork
  • A 7% reduced risk of dementia amongst individuals who reported reading books, newspapers or magazines, watching television or listening to music or radio

“These findings suggest that engaging in literacy skills, creative arts, and active and passive mental activities may help reduce the risk of dementia in old age,” the authors wrote. “In addition, these findings may guide geriatric care and interventions aimed at dementia prevention in older adults.”

The researchers found no link between reduced dementia risk and interpersonal networks, social activities, or outings. Only 2.5% of study participants didn't have an in depth relative they saw frequently, and 5% didn't have at the very least one close friend they saw frequently.

The authors suggest that the protective advantages of adult literacy activities, corresponding to letter writing and computer use, could also be on account of the incontrovertible fact that these activities promote their mental abilities.

“Cognitive stimulation from such activities may increase resilience to brain pathologies by increasing the number of neurons, increasing synaptic activity, and enabling more efficient use of brain networks,” they wrote. “Adult literacy skills include attending classes, using computers, and writing – all of which require processing and storing new information, which slows neurobiological aging and protects against dementia.”

They identified that previous studies, including brain imaging studies, had found that the interactive nature of computer use prompts several regions of the brain.

The protective advantages of mental activities corresponding to crossword puzzles and games present in this latest study are also consistent with previous research.

“Many of these activities are competitive and require complex strategies and problem solving. They utilize a variety of cognitive domains, including episodic memory, visuospatial skills, computation, executive functions, attention, and concentration,” the researchers wrote. They noted that crossword puzzles also use language in a way that triggers word and knowledge networks within the brain.

The CDC According to the study, greater than 5 million people within the United States suffer from dementia, and that number is predicted to rise to 14 million by 2060. The most typical type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, which progresses from mild memory loss to impairments so severe that victims can now not hold a conversation or reply to their surroundings. Alzheimer Association says that while there isn't a clear cause for the disease, a growing variety of studies show that lifestyle changes can affect an individual's risk of Alzheimer's disease and that they often also reduce the chance of other health problems corresponding to heart disease and diabetes.