With or without dementia, old age is accompanied by a decline in memory and cognitive function. That’s been an unassailable fact since the dawn of time. But it might not be fact anymore.
A growing body of research demonstrates that while mental decline may not be entirely preventable, it is increasingly possible to substantially stave it off. Consider, for example, a new study reported in The Guardian a few weeks ago.
Finnish researchers tested more than a thousand people between ages 60 and 77 over the course of two years. Half lived their lives as usual, while the other half went through a kind of lighthearted “elderly boot camp.” They worked out in the gym, they did aerobics, they danced, they ate fish, they played Sudoku, etc.
The results were staggering. Across the board, their brains functioned at a significantly higher rate than those in the control group. They scored 25% higher in mental tests, 85% better in executive function (the brain’s ability to regulate thought), and a whopping 150% higher in mental processing speed.
Next, the study will continue for another seven years. This time, the researchers are hoping to show that the same kind of discipline could prevent or at least limit Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
For anyone who’s played a game of Sudoku, danced to a catchy beat, or savored a delicious seafood meal, that doesn’t sound like such a bad way to live. Hopefully, the research will ultimately show that having healthy fun is the best prescription for a long and sharp-minded life.
In the meantime, if you or a family member is already facing old age or dementia and would like some advice about preparing for the challenges ahead, please don’t hesitate to give our New Jersey elder law attorney office a call. We’re here for you.