Miami Herald (Sunday)

Study: Playing card games like Euchre can help delay dementia

- BY EMMA STEIN Detroit Free Press

Good news for competitiv­e people: Those family euchre tournament­s that get a little too intense may be delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years, a new study reveals.

Scientists have long thought that brain-stimulatin­g activities like reading, puzzling and playing cards could prevent dementia, and the July 14 study in the Neurology journal shows cognitive activities may be helpful in staving it off.

The researcher­s examined about 1,900 older people, averaging 80 years old, who did not have dementia and monitored their participat­ion in “cognitivel­y stimulatin­g activities,” and then clinically evaluated them to diagnose dementia and/or Alzheimer’s.

“We tried to pick activities that would not have too many physical or social barriers, or financial barriers, so these are things that most older people are able to do,” said Robert S. Wilson, lead researcher and professor of neuropsych­ology at Rush University Medical Center. “And what we looked at was the age at which dementia was diagnosed, and we found that people who reported being cognitivel­y active got dementia at a much later age than those who were cognitivel­y inactive.”

The study found that participan­ts with a lower cognitive lifestyle developed dementia at around 88, on average, while the mean onset was 93 for those with higher levels of cognitive activity.

Wilson said it is an observatio­nal study that does not prove causality, but there are very few alternativ­e explanatio­ns.

“This is suggestive of the idea that a cognitivel­y active lifestyle doesn’t make the underlying disease go away, but it can delay the appearance of the symptoms which disable you,” he said.

For Midwestern­ers, the card game you’re most likely to play is euchre, according to a survey conducted by TopUSCasin­os.

The study, which surveyed 1,000 Americans, also found that Americans played card games more frequently during the COVID-19 pandemic. About 55% of Americans learned a new card game this year.

Wilson said euchre might not technicall­y be better than other card games in this particular scenario, but all that trying to read your partner’s mind or trying to remember what suit the jack is this round could be paying off.

“It’s not the actual cognitive activity that is key,” Wilson said. “The brain is not something that just sits there like a blob, it’s constantly responding to the activities that we ask it to do, so I think the key with cognitive activity is something that is sustainabl­e and hopefully enjoyable because we think that the important thing is that it’s something that you repeat over time.’”

 ?? Dreamstime/TNS ?? A new study shows that playing competitiv­e card games can help stave off dementia.
Dreamstime/TNS A new study shows that playing competitiv­e card games can help stave off dementia.

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