Seniors can participate in brain fitness clubs before dementia, Alzheimer's… (Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles…)
Brain exercises have long been touted as a way to ward off dementia and other costs of aging. An Orlando Sentinel report takes a look at the brain fitness clubs popping up to serve seniors, testing them with puzzles, engaging them with video games and providing them an opportunity to interact with their peers.
What we know about the brain has evolved over the last several decades, the article points out. The brain was once seen as a precious collection of irreplaceable cells, potentially lost forever after a bump to the head or a few too many drinks. Now, scientists realize the brain is constantly rewiring itself and can even grow new cells.
How (or even whether) stimulating those brain cells with mind games can keep that noggin in tip-top shape even into a person's later years, however, is still up for debate. One study highlighted in Booster Shots points to little evidence of anything that effectively slows cognitive decline, but another post highlights findings that people with mentally challenging jobs displayed better memory after retirement.
Another paper, published this month in Neurology, found that brain exercises slowed down the decline for a while but appeared to hasten it once dementia set in. (The theory seems to be that the better off you are when dementia hits, the further you have to fall.) While not entirely good news, it does indicate that people can fight the symptoms of the disease -- for a time, anyway.
While the scientists sort it out, you can read the Orlando Sentinel article on brain training here.
-- Amina Khan / Los Angeles Times
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