Dementia is a gradual decline in mental ability. It is a group of symptoms that affect memory, thinking and social abilities, so severe that it interferes with daily activities. A new study has revealed that people who participate in arts and craft activities and who socialize in middle and old ages may delay the development of dementia.
The study involved 256 participants with an average age of 87 who were free of memory and thinking problems at the start of the study. The study participants reported their participation in arts, such as painting, drawing and sculpting; crafts, like woodworking, pottery, ceramics, quilting and sewing; social activities, such as going to the theater, movies, concerts, socializing with friends, book clubs, Bible study and travel. They also reported their computer activities such as using the internet, computer games, conducting web searches and online purchases.
Researchers found that after an average of four years, 121 people developed mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Participants who engaged in arts in both middle and old age were 73% less likely to develop MCI than those who did not report engaging in artistic activities. People who crafted in middle and old age were 45% less likely to develop MCI and people who socialized in middle and old age were 55% less likely to develop MCI compared to those who did not engage in similar activities. Computer use in later life was associated with a 53% reduced risk of MCI. On the other hand, risk factors such as having the APOE gene, having high blood pressure in middle age, depression and risk factors related to blood vessels increased a person's risk of developing MCI.
Rosebud Roberts from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and author of this study said, "Our study supports the idea that engaging the mind may protect neurons, or the building blocks of the brain, from dying, stimulate growth of new neurons, or may help recruit new neurons to maintain cognitive activities in old age. As millions of people may experience MCI, it is important we look to find lifestyle changes that may stave off the condition."
The findings appear online in Neurology