Study: Staying physically, mentally active prevents memory erosion

Doctor suggests setting realistic game plan with older adults to keep them sharp

Lynne Adkins
September 10, 2018 - 9:36 pm



PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — We've been told that it's vital to keep mentally and physically active as we age. Now, a new study proves it really does help.  

You can help older adults set a goal like walking more by developing a plan to make it happen — and to follow through with it. 

Barry Rovner
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health
Barry Rovner, professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson University, said a new study of older men and women proved the process of keeping active does prevent memory decline.

"Cognitive activities like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, anything that requires attention and focus and thought is helpful," he said. "Physical activities, simply getting out and walking around the block two to three times a week."

The study sampled a group of black participants with mild cognitive impairment. Research shows African-Americans suffer from dementia and related diseases twice as much as white people and are more susceptible to developing Alzheimer's disease.

He said suggesting a behavior change isn't enough, but helping seniors set and achieve a goal will make a difference.   

"Then on their own — their own time, their own homes, by themselves, more or less — they'll look at the calendar and say, 'OK, on Wednesday at 12 o'clock I'm supposed to walk around the block,' or, 'I'm supposed to do crossword puzzles, that's what I'm going to do,' " Rovner added.