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.
Degradation 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.