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Using It or Losing It

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Two new studies confirm that staying active does indeed have a positive effect on reducing your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The first, recently published in Neurology, involved nearly 300 older people. At the start of the study, participants reported on how frequently they engaged in mentally stimulating experiences such as reading books, writing letters, reading the newspaper and visiting libraries. By studying brain autopsies after the participants died, the scientists found that 14 percent of the variability in mental decline could be attributed to the amount of intellectual activity in which people participated, both early and late in life. And that effect was seen even after the researchers accounted for other factors that influence dementia like age and education.

The second study out of France showed that people who delay retirement have less risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. "Our data show strong evidence of a significant decrease in the risk of developing dementia associated with older age at retirement, in line with the 'use it or lose it' hypothesis," said Carole Dufouil in a published statement. Dufouil is director of research in neuroepidemiology at INSERM at the Bordeaux School of Public Health.

These studies come up at a perfect time to make my own conclusive study of over 50,000 attendees at 125 Fearless Caregiver conferences held across the nation. The results show that staying involved with your community of caregivers, not isolating yourself from others who care, becoming the CEO of Caring for My Loved One, Inc. and asking questions of everyone involved in your loved one’s care not only makes you a better caregiver, but really feels right.

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