Keeping the brain active is the best way to preserve mental ability, suggests a recent study by researchers at the University of Toronto.
As a person grows older, fear of memory loss and decline of mental health slowly creeps in. Dementia, which is deterioration in memory, thinking, behavior and ability to perform everyday activities due to damage in brain tissues, mainly affects older people though it is not a normal ageing process.
AdvertisementDegradation of cognitive ability makes a person dependent on others and has a physical, social, financial and emotional impact on the person and their families.
Scientists are still exploring the causes and trying to understand the physiology of dementia, which affects 35.6 million people worldwide.
As there are no current treatment strategies to completely cure problems leading to deterioration of mental health, many scientists have focused their research in finding ways to prevent degradation of mental functions.
Many factors from sleep, physical and mental activities, vitamin supplements to smoking and diet have been linked to mental health in various studies.
In an attempt to identify the best method to cut down the risk of dementia, Dr Raza Naqvi from University of Toronto and his team reviewed 32 trials involving about 25,000 healthy patients aged 65 or older.
Studies evaluating the effect of physical activity on mental health reported very low benefits of exercise.
While drugs, hormone therapy, vitamins and supplements showed no significant benefits in retaining the memory at old age.
Three studies that had looked at mental training had reported significant benefits of mental activities on mental health. Mental activities assessed in the trials included daily tasks like finding a phone number, attending memory-training programs and solving puzzles like Sudoku and crossword.
The authors opine that more studies are required to analyze the impact of mental training in preventing the deterioration of mental abilities at old age.