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Active Minds Delay Dementia Symptoms, Not Disease

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerApril 24, 2019

Last Updated: April 24, 2019

Researchers have found that active minds can help delay dementia symptoms, but a recent study has concluded that it does not delay the onset of the actual disease.

Learn more about this research.

Active Minds Only Delay Dementia Symptoms, According to Study

A recent study published in Neurology has found that challenging your brain and keeping the mind active may delay dementia symptoms but that it does not appear to affect 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 socialized.

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 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 keeping an active lifestyle and making healthy choices. Study author Prashanthi Vemrui, Ph.D., from the Mayo Clinic, says:

“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 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? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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