A new reason to promote making among all ages

A new reason to promote making among all ages

Another reason to promote making across generations? New research by Mayo Clinic researchers that finds correlations between mid-life arts and crafts and late-life computer use among elderly and lower risk for mild cognitive impairment, which sometimes develops into Alzheimer’s or full dementia. From an article on Medscape:

Engaging in arts and crafts and social activities in mid-life and late life and using a computer in late life were associated with a reduced risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in elderly patients, a new study has shown.


“The key point we want to get across is that you need to start these activities early,” said lead author Rosebud Roberts, MB, ChB, professor of epidemiology and neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. “There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and there’s no treatment that lasts beyond 18 months to 2 years.”

Part of that message is that if you start these activities earlier, perhaps in your 20s, “keep doing them throughout your life; don’t stop as you get older,” said Dr Roberts.


Their findings, published online April 8 in Neurology, also showed that MCI risk was increased with the APOE ε4 allele; hypertension onset in midlife; and having comorbidities, vascular disease, and depressive symptoms … Participants were asked how often they did arts (eg, painting and drawing) in mid-life and also within the last year. They were asked about crafts pursuits (eg, quilting or woodworking), and they were queried about social engagement (eg, if they went to movies, concerts, theater; went out with friends; or traveled).


The risk [of developing MCI, which is followed often by Alzheimer’s] was reduced in those engaging in both mid-life and late life in artistic activities, crafts, and social activities.


Why artistic pursuits would have a bigger effect on preventing MCI than doing crafts may be because one is producing something for use (eg, a quilt) while the other is producing something with aesthetic qualities (eg, a painting).


“It’s a question of how these activities are impacting the brain,” said Dr Roberts. “With artistic activities, you are actually creating something and wracking your brain to bring it forth, and so it may be that that actually maintains the brain or stimulates the brain or develops new neurons.”


The MCI risk was also reduced for those using a computer in late life …


While self-reports of how often one engaged in artistic or social activities many years ago could be contaminated with reporting bias, the new findings help to clearly demonstrate the benefits of cognitively and socially stimulating activities…

If these correlations are replicated, what are the implications for your space? What kinds of activities would you want in your space to make this possible?

– Kristin Fontichiaro

{cross-posted to the Active Learning blog}

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