Those worried about developing Alzheimer's disease in old age should try and keep mentally active during the course of their life, according to a new study.
Research on mice in the US suggests that a lifetime of being mentally challenged can help slow the onset of the disease and may even prevent Alzheimer's from developing at all.
"What we are seeing in this research is that mice having the same characteristics as humans with Alzheimer's are able to perform well, even at the same level as mice without Alzheimer's, if housed in a mentally challenging, cognitively enriched environment," said Huntington Potter, chief executive officer of the Byrd Research Institute and leader of the study.
He added that the mental stimulation provided in this environment appeared to prevent mental impairment.
"After months of mental stimulation, it was impossible to differentiate these mice from the behaviorally normal, healthy mice," he said.
Alzheimer's disease is thought to affect around one in five people over the age of 80.