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Keys to Delaying Dementia

Solving crossword puzzles, playing cards, going to the movies or theater and partaking in artistic activities can do more than just entertain. According to a new study, these activities may actually delay the onset of dementia.

The study was conducted by researchers at INSERM, France's public health research agency in Montpellier. The findings of the study were published in the September 2009 issue of the journal Neurology.

The study included 5,698 participants over the age of 65 that were free of dementia between the years 1999-2001 when the study began.

Over the four year follow-up, 161 of the participants were diagnosed with dementia.

The researchers found that participants who partook in mind-stimulating activities such as solving crossword puzzles, playing cards or going to the movies at least twice a week had a 50% lower risk of developing dementia compared to those who did those activities less than once weekly.

The trend remained the same even after researchers controlled for a number of outside variables such as gender, health history, education level, occupation and brain functioning at the beginning of the study.

Interestingly, the researchers observed no benefit gained from physical, passive or social activities such as gardening, walking, watching television or visiting with friends.

These findings support a number of earlier studies showing that dementia is not a passive process and bring a whole new meaning to the phrase "If you don't use it, you'll lose it."

Neuro-degenerative diseases are crippling in many ways and often rob both victims and families of precious years. However, an increasing number of studies are showing that simple (and fun) mind stimulating activities may help keep dementia at bay.

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