Social Cognition and Staving Off Dementia

A longitudinal study of health and mental lucidity in the aged—focusing on the huge retirement community of Laguna Woods Village south of Los Angeles—is starting to show some results.

From studying members of the so-called ‘super memory club’ (people aged 90+ with near-perfect cognitive abilities) it is being suggested that not all mental activities are equal when it comes to staving off dementia, and social intereactions may be vastly more important that previously thought.

The researchers have also demonstrated that the percentage of people with dementia after 90 does not plateau or taper off, as some experts had suspected. It continues to increase, so that for the one in 600 people who make it to 95, nearly 40 percent of the men and 60 percent of the women qualify for a diagnosis of dementia.

So far, scientists here have found little evidence that diet or exercise affects the risk of dementia in people over 90. But some researchers argue that mental engagement — doing crossword puzzles, reading books — may delay the arrival of symptoms. And social connections, including interaction with friends, may be very important, some suspect. In isolation, a healthy human mind can go blank and quickly become disoriented.

via Mind Hacks