A large statistical study has unambiguously confirmed the importance of cognitive activity in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Regular practice would delay the onset of symptoms by five years.
“Prevention is better than cure”, Says the adage; this is even more true when we do not have treatment. This is the case for Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease infamous for its terrible consequences, both human and medical.
It has been known for some time now that the genetic background can represent a major risk factor according to family history. But lots of other work has also proven that life habits play a major role in the onset of symptoms. Recently, this is a new study published in Neurology which brought new arguments in this direction. According to its authors, regular intellectual stimulation would delay clinical signs of the disease by five years in subjects over 65 years of age.
A large-scale study
The study authors combed through data from 1903 seniors with an average age of 80. All participants started by answering a lifestyle questionnaire to assess their level of cognitive activity. The questions mainly focused on the frequency and time spent on different activities considered to be intellectually stimulating, such as reading, writing letters or playing games.
Each year, participants returned for a full clinical exam: a review of their medical history, a neurological exam, and a series of 19 cognitive tests. In total, the experience lasted 7 years.
Results without appeal
And from a statistical point of view, the results of the in-depth analysis are final. Among the 458 seniors who developed Alzheimer’s disease during the study, those who maintained regular cognitive activity experienced the first symptoms at the average age of 93.6 years, compared to 88.6 years for the less active. This is a very clear difference, statistically significant, which unambiguously demonstrates the drastic impact of brain activity.
The researchers warn, however, that a bias, for the moment unverifiable, could have crept into their study. Indeed, they did not have the technical means to verify whether it was not Alzheimer’s which was the cause of the decline in cognitive activity, rather than the other way around. But in all cases, the conclusion is the same: subjects who have worked their brains regularly are doing better statistically.
Assuming that there was still some doubt about the benefits of brain activity, this is definitely over. Moral: Invite your elders, and share as much activity and discussion as possible with them. No more excuses every time Grandma offers Scrabble!