Brain exercises may speed up dementia later

Washington, Sept 2: Solving crossword puzzles and reading may do you good initially, but speed up dementia later in life, says a new study.

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago said that brain exercises might, at first, slow the decline of thinking skills but speed up dementia later in old age.

Robert S. Wilson said that once they are diagnosed with dementia, people who have a more mentally active lifestyle are likely to have more brain changes related to dementia compared to those without a lot of mental activity. Wilson noted that mental activities compress the time period that a person spends with dementia, delaying its start and then speeding up its progress. "This reduces the overall amount of time that a person may suffer from dementia," he said.

Researchers evaluated, on a five-point cognitive activity scale, the mental activities of 1,157 people age 65 or older that did not have dementia at the start of the nearly 12-year study.

During the next six years, the study found that the rate of cognitive decline in people without cognitive impairment was reduced by 52 percent for each point on the cognitive activity scale.

For people with Alzheimer``s disease, the average rate of decline per year increased by 42 percent for each point on the cognitive activity scale.

The research is published in the September 1, 2010, online issue of Neurology.