Quick Search For Posts On The Following Topics:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mentally Stimulating Activities

To think, or not to think. That is the question... I think not!

New research shows that mentally stimulating activities such as crossword puzzles, reading and listening to the radio may, at first, slow the decline of thinking skills but speed up dementia later in old age. The research is published in the … The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 22000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care .

Here is a complete copy of the original press release from September 1, 2010.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – New research shows that mentally stimulating activities such as crossword puzzles, reading and listening to the radio may, at first, slow the decline of thinking skills but speed up dementia later in old age. The research is published in the September 1, 2010, online issue of Neurology®,the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Our results suggest that the benefit of delaying the initial signs of cognitive decline may come at the cost of more rapid dementia progression later on, but the question is why does this happen?” said study author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

According to Wilson, mentally stimulating activities may somehow enhance the brain’s ability to function relatively normally despite the buildup of lesions in the brain associated with dementia. However, 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. As a result, those with more mentally active lifestyles may experience a faster rate of decline once dementia begins.

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.

For the study, researchers evaluated the mental activities of 1,157 people age 65 or older who did not have dementia at the start of the nearly 12-year study. People answered questions about how often they participated in mental activities such as listening to the radio, watching television, reading, playing games and going to a museum; for this five-point cognitive activity scale, the more points scored, the more often people participated in mentally stimulating exercises.

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 study was supported by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 22,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com.


Awww Crap! What am I supposed to do now?!

I gotta stop all of this thinking right away... maybe. Just when I think I have something figured out, and have a game plan, somebody always goes and changes the rules of the game. With bvFTD the rules are always changing anyway, so I should be used to it.

The above study seems to deal mostly with Alzheimer's Disease, and an older sample, so it may or may not apply to those of us with FTD. My guess is that it does apply, and may be even more pronounced due to the involvement of the frontal lobes in thinking. Realistically most people with FTD would not be represented in a sample of adults over 65 years old.

And another thing... it looks to me like another case of trying to interpret a correlational study as causal. But what do I know...

It seems to me like a trade-off. Should I trade a slower decline now, with a quick decline later? That kinda sounds like a better deal all around. The idea of becoming a non-thinking mental vegetable today in order to modify my decline at the end seems like a really bad idea. Carpe Diem!

I guess I will have to think about it... like how is listening to the radio mentally stimulating? Luckily I do not like crossword puzzles. Writing this blog is mentally stimulating, but not as much as trying to figure out exactly why there is a skunk-butt sticking out from under my pillow. Is he looking for a piece of cheese, or what?

Comments are welcome.

3 comments:

  1. My neighbor, Mary, was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's and has moved to a local assisted living facility. When she moved here,less than a year ago, she walked 3 miles a day, played golf, took care of a deck full of flowers, went to her grandkids' school activities, etc. She then injured her ankle and was unable to do most of these things. That's when the downhill slide really started. Today, only a couple months after the injury, she no longer always recognizes family/friends, tells stories of multiple events that are all fused together in her mind, and has begun using language you don't expect from an 82-year old sweet grandma. I am so sad to lose her this way. The ONLY good thing about the "A" disease is she won't know it's happening to her.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your comment Matilda. I know both you and Sam will miss having Mary as a neighbor.

    ReplyDelete