Posted by: Suzan | November 29, 2017

Would You Like to Stave Off Cognitive Decline?

brain and art

In 2015 a four year study done jointly by the Academy of Neurologists, Mayo Clinic, and the National Institute on Aging showed promising results for staving off cognitive decline by engaging in arts and crafts. Participating regularly in arts and crafts activities in middle and older ages may delay in very old age the thinking and memory problems which lead to dementia.

People 85 years of age and older are considered the fastest growing age group in the United States. Since Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) generally begins in the 80s it is essential to find ways to help delay cognitive decline in this aging population. “Our study supports the idea that engaging the mind may protect neurons, or the building blocks of the brain, from dying, stimulate growth of new neurons, or may help recruit new neurons to maintain cognitive activities in old age.”

The study looked at multiple activities: arts; crafts; computer use; and socialization.Arts comprised activities such as painting, drawing, and sculpting (more of the Visual Arts); crafts included woodworking, pottery, ceramics, quilting and sewing; computer use referred to using the internet, playing computer games or engaging in social media activities; and socialization referred to book clubs, spending time with friends, Bible study, travel, theater, movies, and concerts.

Results: Participants were 73% less likely to develop MCI; crafters 45% less likely; computer users 53% less likely; and socializers 55% less likely. Thus, to delay cognitive decline as you age, there are many fun and stimulating ways to do so. With the arts in the forefront, here’s your opportunity to dabble with some paints, clay, colors, or pastels with a sketchpad. You can still benefit from coloring Mandalas, making collages, and working with any other visual art form. You get to decide! And the best part-there is no need to be an artist (although it’s certainly okay if you are).

The benefit of staving off cognitive decline is in the art making process – not the final product. So gather your art materials and begin. Better yet find a community to do art with – find a class, workshop, or other way to socialize while creating art. Bonus for your brain!


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