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Television Could Raise Risk of Dementia in Seniors, But This Might Lower It

December 19, 2022

A sedentary lifestyle is already linked to various health conditions. But what you do while you’re sitting around could also raise your risk for dementia, according to a new study. The study, which looked at 150,000 people over the age of 60, found that people who watched television had greater neurological decline and a 24% higher risk of dementia. But these findings may not apply to all screen time. Computer users actually showed a 15% reduced risk of dementia, which the British researchers attributed to the way computers engaged their brains. > Connect with the Memory Care Center

Keep in mind, quality matters.

Before you unplug the television or invest in a new computer for yourself or a loved one, be aware that the study didn't say what kind of television or computer activities were effective, warns Amy Sanders, MD, director of the Memory Care Center at Hartford HealthCare’s Ayer Neuroscience Institute. “Does playing solitaire on the computer ‘count’ as much as reading scientific papers? Did the quality of the television program matter?” she says. Years ago, Dr. Sanders looked at the impact of quality of television on cognition and memory in her own small, unofficial study. “I found that individuals who watched soap operas performed worse on tests of general cognition and memory compared to those who watched the news or more educational programming,” she says. > Want more health news? Text StartHere to 85209 to sign up for text alerts

Mental stimulation, of any kind, can help.

The biggest take away for seniors is the importance of mental stimulation - in any form - to help reduce dementia risk, Dr. Sanders says. In addition to computer activities for mental stimulation, Dr. Sanders suggests:
  • Crossword, number or other puzzles
  • Reading
  • Singing or playing an instrument
  • Playing board games
  • Learning a new skill

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