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Intellectual stimulation to stave off Alzheimer's?

Intellectual stimulation to stave off Alzheimer's?
25th June 2014

Individuals who keep mentally active could be helping to fight off Alzheimer's disease, even if they are genetically prone to developing it.

A study undertaken at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota revealed that people who went to university, worked in demanding jobs and remained intellectually stimulated could stave off the degenerative condition for as many as ten years, Bloomberg reports.

In addition to this, activities like playing music or reading books helped to keep an individual's mind in good condition, even if they were at risk of the disease or hadn't been university educated. 

Almost 2,000 participants were studied aged between 70 and 89. Researchers examined their education, job and how active their cognitive functions were in mid to late-life. 

It transpired an person's memory was better the higher their level of education and the more difficult their job was. What's more, anyone who had participated in lots of mentally-stimulating activities from the age of 40 or above had a better capacity for recollection. 

Scientists found intellectually-challenging hobbies could prevent this form of cognitive decline from taking root for as many as 7.3 years. Even for those who carry the ApoE4 gene, which makes individuals more likely to develop the condition, it could be staved off for approximately 3.5 years. 

Study author and professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic David Knopman told Bloomberg: "Keeping your brain mentally stimulated is a lifelong enterprise. If one can remain intellectually active and stimulated throughout one's lifespan, that's protective against late-life dementia. Staying mentally active is definitely good for your brain.

"The greater the cognitive reserve that people have, the more delayed the onset of dementia is," he added. 

While Mr Knopman did concede that a cure or treatment method for the degenerative condition would probably be more effective than a series of brain-intense exercises, if the latter could reduce the number of cases even marginally, it would be a success. 

A cure for Alzheimer's is desperately needed and prime minister David Cameron recently announced funding for research would be increased in an attempt to do so. 

Find out about dementia care and support services at Barchester care homes.