Engaged Learning Is Key to Cognitive Aging
Memory function is improved by engagement in demanding everyday tasks, researchers have demonstrated. Learning new things and keeping the mind active may be an important key to successful cognitive aging, they add.
According to a recent study, sustained engagement in learning new skills over a period of three months may enhance cognitive function in older adults.
One group of individuals participated in “productive engagement” activities of quilting, digital photography, or engaged in both activities for an average of more than 16.5 hours a week for 3 months. A control group consisted of a “social club” that engaged in instructor-led “receptive engagement” activities, such as cooking and going on field trips. A placebo group performed activities relying on knowledge commonly thought of as being cognitively engaging.
Participants in the productive engagement activities (quilting, photography, and dual activities) showed a significant increase in episodic memory compared with those in receptive engagement activities (social and placebo conditions), the study found.
Pharmacists, as trusted and accessible health care providers, can suggest their customers engage in mentally challenging activities as one strategy for staying sharp.