A few years ago I began to fear I was suffering the early signs of dementia, one of the few things that terrifies me – as it should any normal person, but in my case my brain is one of the few parts that’s worked reliably for years (never mind the other parts – this is a family show!).
I downloaded a copy of the standard dementia diagnostic test and, frankly, one would have to be quite profoundly impaired to fail it. I didn’t, but it meant there was no point in talking to my GP, as he’d just trot out the same test (it has been beefed up since then).
So, figuring it might be a case of use it or lose it, I threw myself into writing for my blog, some days researching and writing half a dozen posts, or more, a day (it was during this period that I got involved in benefits advice). As now, not all were worth publishing, but it kept me busy and, gradually, the problems abated until after a few months, I was back to normal, and have remained so.
I’ve also remained busy. If I’m not writing, then I’m online reading, looking for stuff to write about, or just for its own sake.
Today, though, it seems my use it or lose in theory might well have been on the right track, as this popped into my Inbox a little while ago:-
Mental activities ‘good for the ageing brain’ in the NetDoctor newsletter.
I’ve not been able to track down anything more substantive so far, but as the research had a test population of just 152, and no control group so far as I can tell (though I think volunteers willing to potentially develop dementia would be thin on the ground), this really can’t be hailed as the breakthrough it’s being touted as in some newspapers. At best it’s an indication that “use it or lose it” might be a valid approach, but very much more research is needed, with larger test populations – it’s not like there’s a shortage of old people – before anything definitive comes of it.
Until that happens, working on the assumption that the theory is correct might very well benefit a lot of people, as it did me. It certainly can’t do any harm.