Adult Literacy, Active Mental Activities Lower Dementia Risk

To a lesser extent, engagement in creative artistic activities and passive mental activities linked to lower dementia risk
woman using a computer
woman using a computerAdobe Stock

FRIDAY, July 14, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Engagement in adult literacy and active mental activities is associated with reduced dementia risk, according to a study published online July 14 in JAMA Network Open.

Zimu Wu, Ph.D., from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues examined the association of leisure activities and social networks with dementia risk in a cohort study involving community-dwelling individuals in Australia aged 70 years or older who were generally healthy and without major cognitive impairment. Data were included for 10,318 participants (median age, 73.8 years), who were recruited between March 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2014.

The researchers found that more frequent engagement in adult literacy activities (e.g., writing letters or journaling, using a computer, and taking education classes) and in active mental activities (e.g., playing games, cards, or chess and doing crosswords or puzzles) was associated with a lower risk for dementia (adjusted hazard ratios, 0.89 and 0.91, respectively). Engagement in creative artistic activities (craftwork, woodwork, or metalwork and painting or drawing) and in passive mental activities (reading books, newspapers, or magazines; watching television; and listening to music or the radio) was associated with reduced dementia risk to a lesser extent (adjusted hazard ratios, 0.93 and 0.93, respectively). In this sample, there was no association seen for interpersonal networks, social activities, and external outings with dementia risk.

"Participation in adult literacy activities and in active mental activities was associated with reduced risk of incident dementia," the authors write. "These findings can help inform strategies for dementia prevention and cognitive reserve strengthening in later life, in the context of modifiable daily routines."

Several authors disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text

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