Sudoku, card games, books, writing? It is never too late to start one of these activities! And the brain health benefits are tangible. In fact, by keeping an active brain, even during old age, it is possible to counteract the onset of Alzheimer's disease. This is what emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the prestigious journal Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology, by a team from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago (Wilson et al, Neurology, 2021).
Alzheimer's and the brain
Several scientific studies have dedicated or are currently underway to understand how to counter, prevent or at least delay Alzheimer's neurodegenerative disease. The research we are talking about today provides a very interesting new piece of the puzzle and allows us to understand that, to do good for our brain, it is never too late to start training it. But let's try to understand better.
Active brain and dementia, the experiment
To understand the link between brain activity, carried out through games, such as cards, puzzles, such as sudoku, but also reading and writing, and brain health, scientists have recruited almost 2000 people, with an age average of 80 years and all healthy at the time of the start of the research. Study participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire in order to assess their brain activity. In particular, people had to indicate how many books they had read in the last period, if they were in the habit of writing or engaging in small puzzles or playing cards. Not only that, study participants were also asked to indicate their brain activity in past years and the degree of education. The volunteers were then followed for 7 years, being subjected to tests every year to assess cognitive function and the possible onset of dementia.
It is never too late
What emerged is that the level of education has no link with the age at which Alzheimer's can arise. Not only that, having kept the mind active only when young has been shown to have a lesser impact on the onset of dementia than keeping it active in older age. Indeed, the greatest benefits have been observed in those who, even at the age of 80 and over, have started, or continued if they were already doing it, to engage the brain in activities such as games, puzzles, reading and writing. In these cases, it was observed that any dementia was delayed for 5 years.
Therefore, keeping the brain active even in old age is protective against Alzheimer's. So now there are no more excuses, it is important always and at all ages to carry out activities that can engage the brain. And most importantly, it's never too late to do it.