Mental and social activity --> Better mental function in old age

USC launched its “90+ Study” in 1981. The program has studied over one thousand people over the age of 90 and close to 15,000 people over the age of 65. The New York Times shares some of the study’s findings in “At the Bridge Table, Clues to a Lucid Old Age”.

The article quotes UC Irvine neurologist Dr. Claudia Kawas: “It’s very important to use your brain, to keep challenging your mind, but all mental activities may not be equal. We’re seeing some evidence that a social component may be crucial.” The bridge players at Laguna Woods suggest that’s true:

“We play for blood,” says Ruth Cummins, 92, before taking a sip of Red Bull at a recent game [of bridge].

“It’s what keeps us going,” adds Georgia Scott, 99. “It’s where our closest friends are.”

The study’s findings are quite tentative, but:

“There is quite a bit of evidence now suggesting that the more people you have contact with, in your own home or outside, the better you do” mentally and physically, Dr. Kawas said. “Interacting with people regularly, even strangers, uses easily as much brain power as doing puzzles, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this is what it’s all about.”

Posted by James on Friday, May 22, 2009