A puzzle a day can keep dementia away

Sudoku

Want to stay away from dementia? Start doing crosswords or sudoku, as spending just two hours a day in activities to keep the mind and body busy can help prevent the disease, a new study has claimed.

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. They 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, as well as uplifting activities such as singing.

It was found that the impact was "at least as good as" treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors, typically prescribed to treat dementia, study author Professor Elmar Graessel said.

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] -- 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.

Additionally, Prof Graessel said, the effect on their "ability to perform daily tasks, as measured by the Erlanger Test of Daily Living (E-ADL), was twice as high as achieved by medication. "This means MAKS therapy is able to extend the quality of, and participation in, life for people with dementia within a nursing home environment," he said.

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