You Can Stave Off Dementia with Daily Chores, Study Finds

Are you the busybody of the household - always cleaning, organizing, and tinkering with something? If so, carry on with confidence and pride, as it turns out that maintaining an active lifestyle is good for your noggin. To be more specific, a newly published research paper summed up that being engaged in daily activities - house chores, visiting family and friends, or exercise - considerably reduces the risk of dementia in seniors.

Why dementia prevention is so important for all seniors

Dementia and Activity Levels woman cleaning windows

As many of you will know, dementia is a serious health concern among seniors; nearly a third of adults 85 and up develop dementia. The scary condition slowly robs you of your brain and your independence, first affecting your cognitive abilities and then shutting down your memory and crucial brain functions.

Signs of dementia include:

  • Memory and cognition - trouble remembering, confusion, and warped judgment, getting lost in a familiar place, repeating questions, trouble handling money.
  • Language - difficulty speaking, understanding, reading, writing, using unusual words to point to familiar objects
  • Movement - becoming slower at completing daily tasks, loss of balance, and problems with movement
  • Emotion - little interest in daily events and activities, not caring about the emotions of others, impulsivity.
  • Mental health - hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions.

There is no cure for dementia, so a lot of research and actionable recommendations are focused on prevention rather than treatment. Currently, scientists believe that dementia occurs when many factors, including but not limited to high-stress levels, inflammation, poor nutrition, loneliness, and inactivity, collide. Being active in one’s daily life targets several of these risk factors and yields a pretty impressive positive impact.

But let’s not rely on bare words alone, especially since we now have new data to back up these claims.

The research is in

Dementia and Activity Levels happy seniors

The study, published in the journal Neurology, based the results on self-reported data from 501,376 participants of the UK Biobank. Most people were older adults with an average age of 56. The participants filled in regular questionnaires wherein they reported how often they exercised, completed daily chores, and visited family or friends.

At the beginning of the study, none of the participants exhibited any symptoms of dementia. During the follow-up period of a little over 10 years, 5,185 of them received a diagnosis of dementia.

Having compared the rates of dementia and the activity levels in the study population, the researchers were able to conclude that certain activities reduce the risk of dementia.

Dementia and Activity Levels cleaning shoes

Such activities included:

  • Frequent exercise yielded a 35% reduced risk.
  • Daily chores - a 21% reduced risk.
  • Meeting family and friends every day - a 15% reduced risk.

Like every study, the research in question has some limitations. The main question is whether the same benefits would extend to a younger population, given that the study focused on adults in their 50s and up.

Related article: Learn How to Prevent the 5 Different Types of Dementia!


How can daily activity reduce the risk of dementia?

The research reviewed above measured the numbers, but why do scientists believe that light daily activities can lower the risk of dementia at all? To answer that question, we’ve got to look into a few previous studies.

Research from 2021 similarly correlated physical activity and dementia. Considering self-reported data from 43,896 people, the research found that those most physically active had the lowest risk of dementia.

Dementia and Activity Levels vacuuming

Another study from the same year analyzed the data of 62,286 participants from Korea. They too found that even light activity yields a lower risk of dementia in older adults. Hence, the connection between physical activity and dementia prevention is well-established.

Scientists believe that physical activity is so beneficial for the brain because it improves blood flow in the brain, reduces levels of inflammation, lowers the risk of depression, and improves cardiovascular fitness.

To sum up, exercise and move around as much as you can, and you will be able to cut down your risk of dementia by a third. Even on days when you feel too tired or busy to exercise, try and maintain some activity, even if only doing the dishes or watering the plants. 

And last but not least, don’t underestimate the power of human connection; visiting your loved ones, going on a walk with friends, or having a coffee with a family member will benefit your emotional and physical health tremendously.

H/T: Verywell Health
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