Computers reduce male dementia risk
Published on 05 September 2012 11:30 AM
Older men who use computers to play games, go online or email their grandchildren may also be helping to reduce the risk of dementia, according to a new Australian study.
While experts have long recognised that a healthy diet and regular exercise can lower the likelihood of dementia, cases of the cognitive condition were 40% lower among computer users.
Researchers quizzed the new generation of older computer users - so-called 'silver surfers' - about the frequency of their computer usage and whether they used their machines for word processing, surfing the web, sending emails or playing games.
After running a detailed analysis of the results, the study's authors concluded that computer users had more active social networks and a lower incidence of clinically significant depressive symptoms or medical morbidity than non-users.
The data challenge the image of computer users as physically unfit, socially isolated individuals, suggesting they can help older individuals keep in touch with relatives and forge new friendship groups.
'Older Men Who Use Computers Have Lower Risk of Dementia' was compiled by researchers at the University of Western Australia's Centre for Health and Ageing.
An in-depth study
The report is part of the Centre's Health In Men Study (HIMS) study, which followed 5,506 community-dwelling men aged 69-87 for up to eight and a half years.
The researchers did draw attention to limitations in the methodology behind the report, but noted that the reduction in dementia levels could not be attributed to age, education, social isolation, depression, poor physical health, or prevalent cognitive impairment.
Writing in the report, the study's authors said: 'There seems to be no obvious reason not to encourage older people to embrace the use of computer technology, as long as one remains mindful of the negative musculoskeletal and cardiovascular consequences of prolonged physical inactivity and the many advantages of a balanced and healthy lifestyle.'
Copyright Press Association 2012