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Participation in Leisure Activities in 50s Not Tied to Dementia

Decline in participation in leisure activities tied to higher risk for later dementia

family walking through the field

FRIDAY, Oct. 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Participation in leisure activities at an average age of 56 years is not associated with dementia risk, although there is an association for decline in participation thereafter with subsequent risk, according to a study published online Oct. 28 in Neurology.

Andrew Sommerlad, Ph.D., from University College London, and colleagues examined the association between participation in leisure activities and incident dementia among 8,280 participants of the Whitehall II prospective cohort study. Leisure activity participation was examined using a 13-item scale in 1997 to 1999, 2002 to 2004, and 2007 to 2009.

The researchers found that at 18.0-year follow-up, participation in leisure activities at a mean age of 55.8 years (1997 to 1999 assessment) was not associated with dementia (hazard ratio, 0.92; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.79 to 1.06); however, the likelihood of developing dementia was decreased with higher participation at a mean age of 65.7 years (2007 to 2009 assessment) at 8.3-year follow-up (hazard ratio, 0.82; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.69 to 0.98). There was no consistent association observed for specific type of leisure activity with dementia risk. There was an association noted for decline in participation between 1997 to 1999 and 2007 to 2009 with subsequent dementia risk.

"It's plausible that people may slow down their activity level up to 10 years before dementia is actually diagnosed, due to subtle changes and symptoms that are not yet recognized," Sommerlad said in a statement.

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