Reading, Writing May Help Stall Mental Decline

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Dementia, the severe decline in mental abilities, such as memory and reasoning, affects four to five million people in the United States, most of whom are elderly. A study in the journal Neurology finds that keeping the mind active, specifically by reading and writing, can help prevent mental deterioration.

Researchers studied 294 elderly people for six years before their deaths at an average age of 89 and found that those who took part in "mentally stimulating activities" -- like reading and writing -- over the course of their lives had a slower rate of mental decline as compared to those who hadn't.

In fact, those subjects who frequently took part in mental activity late in their lives decreased the decline of their mental faculties by about 32 percent.

Researchers believe that it is important to begin partaking in mental activity during childhood and to maintain it well into your later years.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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