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Knitting and Painting Can Prevent Dementia

Bravo, a new study has reveled that knitting and crocheting could reduce the risk of dementia.

Those who have a habit of of painting, pottery, drawing and quilting were found less prone to developing memory problems, a new study has exposed.

Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota believe the findings emphasize the importance of keeping the mind engaged in some activitiy.

They found people who participate in arts and crafts, and those who socialise in middle and old age, were 73 per cent less likely to develop memory loss, which often leads to dementia.

The key, they believe, lies in the fact the activities stimulate the mind and help protect vital neurons – the building blocks of the brain.

Study author Dr Rosebud Roberts, of Mayo Clinic in the United States and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said: ‘As millions of older adults are reaching the age where they may experience these memory and thinking problems, called mild cognitive impairment (MCI), it is important we look to find lifestyle changes that may stave off the condition.

‘Our study supports the idea that engaging the mind may protect neurons, or the building blocks of the brain, from dying, stimulate growth of new neurons, or may help recruit new neurons to maintain cognitive activities in old age.’

Participants who engaged in arts in both middle and old age were 73 per cent less likely to develop MCI than those who did not report engaging in artistic activities.

Those who crafted in middle and old age were 45 per cent less likely to develop MCI.

Meanwhile people who socialised in middle and old age were 55 per cent less likely to develop MCI compared to those who did not engage in like activities.

Computer use in later life was associated with a 53 per cent reduced risk of MCI.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, involved 256 people with an average age of 87 who were free of memory and thinking problems at the start.

They reported their participation in: Arts, such as painting, drawing and sculpting; crafts, including woodworking, pottery ceramics, quilting, quilling and sewing; social activities, such as going to the theatre, movies, concerts, socializing with friends, book clubs, Bible study and travel; computer activities such as using the internet, computer games, conducting web searches and online purchases.

After an average of four years, 121 people developed mild cognitive impairment.

 However, risk factors such as having the APOE gene, having high blood pressure in middle age, depression and risk factors related to blood vessels increased the risk of developing MCI.

 Leading charities have welcomed the findings, echoing the message that keeping the mind active is vital in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Laura Phipps, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said the study builds on past research that suggests ‘staying mentally active as we age can help to maintain memory and thinking skills’.

 She said: ‘The study suggests that mid-life could be an important window for engaging in activities to maintain brain health, but researchers still need to unpick the reasons behind this. ‘Lack of social engagement in later life may itself indicate underlying brain changes that lead to mild cognitive impairment.’

 She noted the study focused on MCI, a condition that precedes dementia, rather than dementia itself.

 ‘We do know that eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and keeping blood pressure and weight in check can all help to reduce the risk of dementia.’

 Dr Clare Walton, from the Alzheimer’s Society, added: ‘The inclusion of computer use, such as online shopping and gaming, in this study is interesting but more research is needed to determine whether regular computer use has any long-term effects on memory.

 ‘Alzheimer’s Society has long promoted the benefits of arts, crafts and social interaction as a way to help people with dementia live well and reduce loneliness.

‘However, it is too early to say whether these activities done regularly throughout life can help keep dementia at bay.’

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