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Being creative in old age may help prevent dementia

28th April 2015

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

A recent study has shown that remaining creative in old age can help reduce the chances of developing dementia by up to 73 per cent. This is thought to be because taking part in art helps to stimulate the mind, which could be even more beneficial then socialising or using a computer.

Researchers in Minnesota followed 256 people over the age of 85 for a total of four years in order to study how certain activities affected the mind. Some participated in creative projects such as ceramics, pottery, sewing and woodworking, while others took part in social activities such as attending the theatre, socialising and using the internet.

Arts and crafts hobbies may improve brain power

Following the four-year study, the researchers found that more than one third of the participants had developed mild cognitive impairment, which is often associated with leading to dementia. However, those who had got involved with creative projects were less likely to suffer from thinking or memory problems, when compared with those who had simply taken part in the social activities.

While all still lowered the risk, those taking part in arts were 73 per cent less likely to develop problems, which is good news for those who use rise and recline chairs due to mobility issues as such activities are not necessarily impacted by limited mobility. Also, those socialising reduced the risk by 55 per cent, and those who used the internet by 55 per cent. These findings support the idea that engaging the mind can encourage growth and protect existing neurons, which may help to prevent dementia for many in the future.

Currently, there are 850,000 people diagnosed with dementia in the UK, with one in six people aged over 80 suffering from the condition, and it is thought that this figure will rise to one million by the year 2025.

As well as taking part in arts and crafts, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and not smoking can also help to prevent the condition from taking hold.

Image Credit: Denise Chan (Flickr.com)

This content was written by Emily Bray. Please feel free to visit my Google + profile to read more stories.