The title of this blog is identical to a title of an article by Elizabeth Agnvall in the April21, 2016 online AARP. HM has a number of comments on this article the first of which is that this title is way, way too cautious. There is no question that social activities help protect memory. Although there is no claim that social activities prevent dementia, there is no doubt that they help reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment, a condition that is often—but not always — a precursor to Alzheimers.
The article reports results of a study of about 2000 men and women age 70 and older participating in the long-running Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. Two numbers are reported regarding the reduced risk of people who used the computer at least once a week. In the article proper the number provided is 42%, but in a table summarizing the studies results it is 44 %.
Those who read magazines at least once a week had a 30% reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment
Those who had engaged in crafts (for example, knitting) at least once a week had a 16% reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment.
Those who engaged in playing games at least once a week had a reduced risk of 14% or mild cognitive impairment.
These are reduced risks from what? Is the original risk 100%? 75%? 50%? 25%?
Apart from the risk of mild cognitive impairment HM wonders what are these people doing with the rest of their time? Watching television? Watching Lucy reruns? Presumably the reciprocals of these values are the percentages of people who are at risk? This is my peer group and HM is astounded at the low level of these activities and the finding that such low levels resulted in reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment. It appears that my peers are largely cognitively disengaged. This is difficult to believe.
As readers of the healthy memory blog should know, our recommendation is to remain cognitively engaged through growth mindsets on a daily basis, along with daily physical activity, daily meditation, and daily social activity. Such a regimen should yield much larger reduced risks of mild cognitive impairment. It is quite possible that you will be one of those whose brain has the defining symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but who never experiences any of the behavioral or cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s. In other words, you may never have known that you had Alzheimer’s.
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