We’ve reported recently on possible links between some medications and dementia. But there are also some activities that may help seniors keep their minds sharp.
For a long time, doctors have recommended daily exercise as a way to reduce the risk of dementia. Now, a recent study suggests spending some time each day on the internet can serve the same purpose.
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that seniors who use the internet regularly can reduce their risk of dementia by as much as 50%. Even after allowing for other factors that could affect cognitive ability, the researchers discovered that browsing the web for six minutes to two hours a day appeared to provide the most protection.
This isn’t the first study to explore this area. Previous studies have shown that being engaged online can reduce aging’s natural tendency to produce cognitive decline. Some studies have also shown that internet users display better verbal command and memory than those who seldom or never use the internet.
Researchers point out that the study was conducted over a 17-year period and involved thousands of participants between the ages of 50 and 65, giving it added credibility. None of the participants displayed any signs of dementia at the start of the study period.
“Regular internet users experienced approximately half the risk of dementia than non-regular users,” the authors concluded. “Being a regular internet user for longer periods in late adulthood was associated with delayed cognitive impairment, although further evidence is needed on potential adverse effects of excessive usage.”
The authors said the difference in risk between regular and non-regular users did not vary by educational attainment, race-ethnicity, sex, and generation.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is an overall term for a particular group of symptoms. The characteristic symptoms of dementia are difficulties with memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking skills. Dementia has several causes reflecting specific changes in the brain.