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Playing board games once a week may help stave off dementia and Alzheimer's, research suggests

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Playing games in your twilight years can have a positive effect on your mental health and help to fend off conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease, a scientific study has suggested.

The study by US researchers at the Mayo Clinic (via Purple Pawn) was published in scientific journal JAMA Neurology and aimed to examine the potential link between ‘mentally stimulating activities’ and the ‘outcome of incident Mild Cognitive Impairment’.

As explained on the Mayo Clinic site, MCI is a stage of mental decline between that caused naturally by aging and more serious conditions – suffering from MCI can increase the risk of later dementia (sometimes caused by Alzheimer's disease) and other cognitive troubles, but doesn’t necessarily guarantee a further decline.

While tracking close to 2,000 individuals aged over 70 during the course of four years, the researchers found that those who played games at least once a week were 22 per cent less likely to suffer from MCI.

A similar result was found for those who took part in social activities, who were 23 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with MCI. Craft activities were even more effective, at 28 per cent, and computer use was among the most effective ways to decrease MSI risk, with a 30 per cent reduction.

It’s worth noting that the study didn’t record whether those being studied had participated in similar activities before the age of 70, which may also have an effect.

“In this population-based prospective cohort study, we observed that engaging in mentally stimulating activities in late life was associated with a decreased risk of incident MCI,” the study concluded.

“More specifically, playing games and engaging in craft activities, computer use, and social activities significantly reduced the risk of incident MCI.”

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