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Using a computer reduces dementia risk, study suggests

Older people who use a computer once a week or more were more than 40% less likely to develop memory and thinking problems, compared to those who hadn't, according to Alzheimer's UK.

This is based on a four-year long study of nearly 2,000 people aged 70 and older, who all had normal memory and thinking abilities at the start of the research.

They were asked to engage in mentally stimulating activities such as computer use, reading, crafting and social activities and were followed to see whether they developed any memory or thinking impairments.

People who reported using a computer once per week or more were 42% less likely to develop memory and thinking problems than those who did not.

This was more effective at staving off memory problems than weekly social activities, crafts (such as knitting), or reading magazines, though these activities meant that people were less likely to develop problems by 23%, 16% and 30% respectively.

In response, Dr Clare Walton, research manager at the charity, said: “There is increasing evidence that staying mentally and socially active is an important way to keep our brains healthy as we age. This could include activities such as regularly doing puzzles, trying out arts and crafts or joining a book group.

“Although this research is only preliminary, it should be encouraging to today's generation of silver surfers that using a computer might also help to keep memory sharp,” she added.