Trying to decide what to buy Grandma and Grandpa for their birthday? Consider a board game, a puzzle or good book. Why? Current research shows that daily participation in puzzles and board games such as chess, challenge the mind and might also delay onset of dementia-related memory decline in older seniors.

With particular reference to the elderly in a recent study, researchers used information from the Bronx Aging Study, which included data on 488 people who were between the ages of 75 and 85 at the start of the study.

At the start of the study, participants did not have dementia. They reported how often they participated in six mentally stimulating activities: reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles, playing a board or card game, participating in a group discussion, or playing music.

Having collected the results, researchers analysed data on the 101 participants who undertook the study in the study who later developed dementia over an average follow-up time of five years.

The more socially and mentally active the person was, the greater the delay of onset of accelerated memory decline to become evident.

For each activity, such as chess and similar strategy board games, the participant rated his or her level of interaction as daily, several days a week, or weekly. Daily got seven points, several times a week got four points, and weekly got one point. Occasional or no activity received no points.

The median point total was seven among the group that showed increased tendency toward dementia. When researchers looked at the time that memory decline began accelerating rapidly for each person, they found that each additional activity day was linked to a delay in the onset of memory decline by 0.18 years.

“The point of accelerated decline was delayed by 1.29 years for the person who participated in 11 activities per week compared to the person who participated in only four activities per week,” study author Charles B. Hall, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says in a written statement.

The data held up even after researchers took in to account a persons education.

This is an encouraging sign for both old and young. Development of the mind continues throughout life and as long as that development is allowed to progress we see hopeful signs for both young and old with various forms of memory and mind related problems.

Hoping to keep your cogs in gear? It's possible that part of the solution rests in our willingness to play a little more, read a little more and engage the mind, rather than switch it off. It makes perfect sense, don't you agree?

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Author's Bio: 

David Trounce is the owner of Games from Everywhere. A site Dedicated to Educational Board Games Chess and Learning Puzzles.