From Our Archives

Dementia Prevention: Brain Exercise

Medical Author: William C. Shiel, Jr., FACP, FACR
Medical Editor: Leslie J. Schoenfield, M.D., Ph.D.

Dementia is significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. Dementia is reported in as many as 1% of adults 60 years of age. Moreover, it has been estimated that the frequency of dementia doubles every five years after 60 years of age. So, dementia is clearly related to aging.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Among other causes are medical conditions (thyroid disease, drug toxicity, thiamine deficiency with alcoholism, and others), brain injury, strokes, multiple sclerosis, infection of the brain (such as meningitis and syphilis), HIV infection, hydrocephalus, Pick's disease, and brain tumors.

Dr. Joe Verghese and others at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in collaboration with Syracuse University studied 469 subjects older than 75 years of age who lived in the community setting. They recorded the frequency of participation in leisure activities for the subjects. They documented their thinking and physical abilities and recorded them in activity-days per week.