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Dementia in Australia: The Power of Brain Activities such as Chess and Puzzles
While research on dementia and cognitive decline is continually expanding, revealing vital information on the factors that can safeguard or slow down these conditions, some interventions stand out.
We’ve long understood the importance of social connections, and the roles of diet, exercise, and genetics.
But how crucial is mental exercise?
Monash University conducted a comprehensive study on over 10,000 older Australians, with an average age of 74, aiming to pinpoint strategies to reduce dementia risk.
The study revealed that individuals who regularly engaged in activities that promote literacy and mental sharpness were 11% less prone to developing dementia.
Such activities encompass attending educational classes, journaling, playing brain games like chess and crosswords, and computer usage.
Interestingly, the research also indicated that engaging in artistic hobbies such as crafting, knitting, painting, and reading might reduce dementia risk by up to 7%.
The study explained, “Cognitive engagement in these activities boosts resilience against neurological disorders by increasing neuron counts, enhancing synaptic activity, and optimising the efficiency of brain networks.”
Contrary to other studies, the Monash research did not identify a significant correlation between social networks, regular outings, and dementia risk. However, this does not undermine the widely recognized protective power of strong social ties against dementia.
The researchers pointed out that the majority of their study participants reported having strong social networks in their lives or, at the very least, had maintained good social ties in their earlier years.
This strong baseline might have provided inherent protection against dementia, while activities such as chess, computer activities, and journaling introduced additional layers of protection.
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