The large-scale investigation published in the journal PLOS Medicine and led by the University of Exeter, used data from more than 2,000 mentally fit people over the age of 65, examined the theory that experiences in early or mid life which challenge the brain make people more resilient to changes resulting from age or illness — they have higher “cognitive reserve.”

The analysis, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) found that people with higher levels of reserve are more likely to stay mentally fit for longer, making the brain more resilient to illnesses such as dementia.

The research team included collaborators from the universities of Bangor, Newcastle and Cambridge.

Linda Clare, Professor of Clinical Psychology of Ageing and Dementia at the University of Exeter, said: “Losing mental ability is not inevitable in later life. We know that we can all take action to increase our chances of maintaining our own mental health, through healthy living and engaging in stimulating activities. It’s important that we understand how and why this occurs, so we can give people meaningful and effective measures to take control of living full and active lives into older age.

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Dr.¬†Stegall’s Comments: The old adage “use it or lose it” certainly applies to brain health. I feel confident that daily brain stimulation through reading, puzzles (crosswords, sudoku, etc.), conversation, prayer, and/or meditation serves to keep the brain fit. There is also belief that inflammation, caused by too much sugar in the diet, plays a role in the development of dementia. Make daily brain “exercise” a priority!