Two studies have shown that engaging in artistic activities can help slow the progression of dementia. A Mayo Clinic study found that painting, drawing, sculpting, woodworking, and making pottery does challenge the brain, stimulate the mind and develop motor skills to help preserve the brain. Dr. Yonas Geda, Mayo Clinic Faculty Member, says the study also found that socializing, such as going to the movies, concerts and being part of a book club can help as well. This Mayo Clinic study focused on people 70 and older, but researchers are advising younger generations to start strengthening their brains now. In a second Mayo Clinic study that focused on people who were over 85 years old who were followed for four years, the participants reported that they were involved in (1) the arts – painting, drawing and sculpting; (2) crafts – like woodworking, pottery, ceramics, quilting, and sewing; (3) social activities – attending the theatre and socializing; and (4) using the Internet. Those who had taken part in the arts were 73 percent less likely to have suffered memory or thinking problems. The crafters were 45 percent less likely to have mild cognitive impairment and the socializing group lowered the risk by 55 percent. Internet users reduced their risk of memory problems by 53 percent. Study author, Dr. Rosebud Roberts of Mayo Clinic, reports: “As millions of older adults are reaching the age where they may experience these memories and thinking problems called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), it is important we look to find lifestyle changes that may stave off the condition.” He further stated: “Our study supports the idea that engaging the mind may protect neurons, or the building blocks of the brain, from dying, stimulate growth of new neurons, or may help recruit new neurons to maintain cognitive activities in old age.” www.mayoclinic.org
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