Let’s stimulate our brains!
Led an Intellectual Stimulating Life? You Have a Better Chance of Warding Off Alzheimer’s. In a JAMA study researchers suggest that high lifetime intellectual enrichment may delay the onset of cognitive impairment by almost nine years in carriers of the APOE4 genotype, a risk factor for Alzheimer disease, compared with low lifetime intellectual enrichment. What is high lifetime intellectual enrichment you ask? It is a combination of things. Higher intellectual scores take in education (years of school completed) and occupation (based on attributes, complexities of a job), as well as higher levels of mid/late-life cognitive activity (e.g., reading books, participating in social activities and doing computer activities at least three times per week). These were linked to better cognition in older patients. Authors Prashanthi Vemuri, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, Minn., and colleagues studied 1,995 individuals (ages 70 to 89 years) without dementia (1,718 were cognitively normal and 277 individuals had mild cognitive impairment) in Olmsted County, Minnesota. They analyzed education/occupation scores and mid/late-life cognitive activity based on self-reports. Bottom line: Better education/occupation scores and mid/late-life cognitive activity were associated with better cognitive performance. They concluded that ÛÏLifetime intellectual enrichment might delay the onset of cognitive impairment and be used as a successful preventive intervention to reduce the impending dementia epidemic.Û I assume that if you get half the equation right that there is still some benefit. By that I mean perhaps someone did not complete high school and had jobs that were not intellectually challenging but now find themselves engaged in the activities described – reading books, participating in social activities and doing computer activities at least three times per week. That has to count for something. Perhaps the message is more for younger generations and parents. Keep your kids intellectually stimulated and engaged; continue that through adulthood and then through your older years and you can delay Alzheimer’s onset for nine years! Get busy!