|By Kelly Young
Stimulating mental and social activities over a lifetime are associated with lower risk for developing dementia, according to a JAMA Neurology study.
Roughly 1600 older adults (mean age, 80) free of dementia at baseline completed questionnaires on their frequency of cognitive activities in early, mid, and late life, and social activities in late life (e.g., reading, volunteering, eating at restaurants, traveling, visiting friends and family). This information, along with years of education, was used to construct a cognitive reserve score.
Over a mean of 6 years’ follow-up, 24% of participants developed dementia. After multivariable adjustment, participants in the highest tertile of cognitive reserve scores had a 39% lower risk for dementia diagnosis than those in the lowest tertile. The risk reduction was significant even in participants with high Alzheimer disease and vascular pathologies.
The authors conclude: “Our findings suggest that accumulative educational and mentally stimulating activities enhancing [cognitive reserve] throughout life might be a feasible strategy to prevent dementia”