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A puzzle a day keeps dementia away

health-and-fitness Updated: Dec 05, 2011 00:35 IST

PTI
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Want to stay away from dementia? Start doing crosswords or sudoku, as spending just two hours a day in activities which keep mind and body busy can help prevent the disease, a new study has claimed. Dementia affects ones memory, thinking, ability as well as judgment and behaviour.

Other simple activities such as gardening, making snacks and singing can also help keep the brain healthy, and even slow the course of dementia in sufferers already diagnosed with the condition, the researchers said.

For their study, the researchers from Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen, Germany, trialled a two-hour therapy session called MAKS in nursing homes for six days a week for a year, the Daily Mail reported. Sessions began with a 10-minute spiritual introduction, in which the 98 participants discussed topics like happiness, or sang a song or hymn. The sessions also included gentle exercise such as bowling or croquet, half an hour of solving puzzles in groups and 40 minutes of everyday activities like preparing a snack, simple gardening work or doing woodwork.

It was found that the impact was at least as good as treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors, typically prescribed to treat dementia. The sessions postponed decline in dementia patients’ cognitive function for at least a year.

After a year, patients who had taken part were still at the same point on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale [ADAS], which is used to check how far the condition has advanced.

“While we observed a better result for patients with mild to moderate dementia, the result of MAKS therapy on ADAS was at least as good as treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors,” said Prof Graessel, one of the researchers.