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Staying mentally active can help with memory issues down the road



Five million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and experts predict that number could double within the next 40 years. But new research suggests that seniors may be able to reduce their risk for memory problems by staying mentally active as they age.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic studied nearly 200 elderly people with mild cognitive impairment, a kind of memory loss that is often the first stage of Alzheimer’s disease. They compared these patients to more than 1,000 people the same age that had no signs of memory trouble.

Doctors found that people who were mentally active in their 50’s and 60’s were less likely to develop memory impairment. Seniors who read books, used the computer, or did crafts such as knitting or quilting were 30 to 50 percent less likely to have memory problems.

Those who regularly enjoyed social outings with friends cut their risk by 40 percent. Researchers theorize that mental activity forms new connections among brain cells, which helps keep memory functioning into old age.

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There is new evidence that exercising your brain as you age can reduce the odds of memory problems.

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