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Do a couple of simple tasks a day to stay mentally sharp

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Juggling a few minor projects in the day can keep us mentally sharp and help ward off dementia as we get older.

A day that includes cooking and reading, or playing cards and walking, is good for the grey matter, say researchers from the Simon Fraser University.

It’s especially important to fill the day with a few tasks when we reach 65, a time when the brain can start to deteriorate if it’s not stimulated.

Staying active even trumps genes.  People with a history of dementia in the family were still less likely to develop it themselves if they gave themselves a few little things to do every day.

The researchers analysed the daily activities of 3,210 people who were aged between 65 and 89.  They were asked to name the activities they did in a day, which they selected from a list of 33, including reading, cooking, playing cards, walking, making phone calls or emails, or visiting friends.

By matching their responses against other databases, the researchers were able to assess the participants’ dementia risk.  Those who selected at least two of the activities that they did on a daily basis were far less likely to suffer cognitive decline.

Juggling a few things every day is the single most important thing you can do, and it even trumps genetics and other risk factors such as poor education or memory abilities.

Dementia levels are predicted to triple by 2050 as populations age—but giving yourself a few simple tasks to do every day could ensure it won’t be your fate.

(Source: Aging, 2021; doi: 10.18632/aging.203753)

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