Active Minds Delay Dementia Symptoms, but Not Disease

Researchers have found that activity can help delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. However, a recent study has concluded that while activity can help delay symptoms, it does not delay the onset of the actual disease.Active Minds Delay Dementia Symptoms, but Not Disease

Learn more about this study and the research group that demonstrated this progression of Alzheimer’s based on activity level.

Active Minds Only Delay Dementia Symptoms, Not Disease Progression

A new study published in Neurology has found that challenging your brain may delay the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s but does not appear the affect the physical changes of the disease.

The study evaluated nearly 400 people over the age of 70 without dementia, and found that 53 participants had mild cognitive impairment. Each participant reported how often each month or week they exercised, completed household activities and estimated how often they had read books or magazines, played an instrument or engaged in a social activity.

Researchers found that the buildup of amyloid plaque in the brain, a hallmark characteristic of Alzheimer’s, did not change based on activity level for most people.

The Impact of Education on Brain Health

However, one group of people did exhibit lower levels of amyloid plaques based on activity level. Participants with at least 14 years of education who had the APOE4 gene, which is thought to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, and kept mentally active in middle age, had less amyloid plaque than those who did not stay mentally fit.

Researchers are not sure why only APOE4 carriers with higher levels of education demonstrated slower plaque accumulation, but say their findings should not discourage people from making healthy choices and keeping an active lifestyle. Study author Prashanthi Vemrui, PhD, from the Mayo Clinic said:

“There is substantial evidence that these activities help to delay the onset of memory and thinking problems. What we don’t know is how this process works.”

Regardless of the findings, researchers encourage people to find an activity they enjoy and expose their minds to new, challenging activities throughout their life to potentially delay the symptoms of dementia.

Which activities help you or your loved ones stay active and delay dementia symptoms? Share your suggestions with us in the comments below.

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  • I completely agree that its very important for those with Dementia to engage in activities that challenge the mind. My mum has always been a very creative person, an accomplished artist, seamstress and crafter. She passed on her love of arts & crafts to me and I graduated in 1984 with a degree in art & textile design. My creativity was put on the back burner for many years and I only rediscovered art when my mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I found out how invaluable Art Therapy is for those suffering with memory problems.
    I treasure the time that my mum and I have together and make sure that we always have a craft project on the go … making paper flowers … hand-made cards … lavender bags … anything to keep her happy and occupied through the day.
    Arts and crafts give her so much pleasure … a real purpose and something to look forward to everyday which is so important. Jigsaws are another hobby we enjoy together … all these activities not only stimulate my mum’s thinking and memory but improve her quality of life … and mine also as a caregiver.

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