Studies concerning the effect of different types of leisure activities on various cognitive domains and on delaying the age of dementia onset are limited. We explored this topic using two different cohorts. In a cohort of 1463 Chinese adults aged 65+ years, followed up after 2.4 years, a high level of mental activity was related to significantly less decline in global mental function, language, and executive function. Physical activity was related to less decline in episodic memory and language, and social activity was associated with less decline in global cognition1. In a Swedish study including 1375 dementia-free Swedish community dwellers with good cognitive function (mean age = 81.2), 388 persons developed dementia over a nine-year period. Age at onset of dementia was significantly older in persons who had higher levels of participation in mental, physical, or social activity. A dose-response pattern was found. The difference in mean age at dementia onset between the inactive group and the most active group was 17 months2. We have also studied the association between long-term trajectories of social engagement and late-life disability. Preliminary results suggest that middle-aged individuals with continuously high levels of social interactions over a 34-year period leading up to old age have a lower risk of disability in late life than those with continuously low and medium levels of social activities or decreasing levels.

  1. Wang HX, Jin Y, Hendrie HC, Liang C, Yang L, Cheng Y, et al. Late life leisure activities and risk of cognitive decline. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2012; 68(2):205-213.
  2. Paillard-Borg S, Fratiglioni L, Xu W, Winblad B, Wang HX. An active lifestyle postpones dementia onset by more than one year in very old adults. J Alzheimers Dis 2012; 31(4):835-842.