ARE YOU PHYSICALLY ACTIVE? I have some good news for you: Older adults who participate in a variety of activities appear to reduce their dementia risk, according to a new study from Simon Fraser University (British Columbia, Canada).
Researchers evaluated the National Institute on Aging’s Health and Retirement Study data. The 3,210 participants ranged in age from 65 to 89 years. The subjects reported how often they engaged in 33 activities, scoring the frequency as “never, at least once monthly, several times a month, and daily.”
Machine learning to predict dementia
The scientists built a machine learning model to analyze the effects of physical activity on memory. The model looked at a range of activities, including hobbies (cooking, for example), card playing, walking for 20 minutes, and socializing with friends or families (via letters, phone calls, email, or in-person visits).
You will not be surprised to learn that engaging in a combination of hobbies (for example, light exercise and connecting socially with others) can reduce memory decline in adults ages 65 to 89. Combining activities appears to drop this memory decline by more than any individual activity.
To punctuate these findings, the researchers report that the effects of engaging in a combination of activities increased with age. Activity appeared to have a more significant impact on memory retention than historical factors such as education level or baseline memory.
Social prescribing involves connecting older individuals to a wide range of community activities. Get out there and walk or garden. Take an art class or come to my hospital and volunteer. I know that I want to maintain healthy cognitive function as I age.
Thank you for joining me today.