Kaycee Sink from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center: Cognitively Stimulating Activities Do Not Prevent Dementia

As the population gets older more questions are being asked about what can be done to prevent dementia and whether there are certain activities which are better suited to achieve this goal if it is possible.

As the population gets older more questions are being asked about what can be done to prevent dementia and whether there are certain activities which are better suited to achieve this goal if it is possible.

Kaycee M. Sink, MD, MAS, of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, took part in a debate on the topic during the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Vancouver and argued how cognitively stimulating activities do not necessarily prevent dementia.

Sink discussed online brain training and also puzzles such as sudoku or crossword puzzles, compared to activities that are both social activities and also cognitive activities, such as meeting up and playing bridge or other card games.

In her own practice Sink said ultimately she recommends finding activities that combine the physical, the social and the cognitive in one activity. Regardless, Sink said the activities are not necessarily preventing dementia.

“There’s no evidence engaging in these activities actually changes your function or prevents dementia,” she said. Instead, it simply means better performance of the task.

The main argument of her opponent, according to Sink, was that engaging in lifelong higher learning could result in cognitive reserve and delay dementia. Sink said that with dementia being the number one fear of older adults, the lifelong occupational learning her opponent refers to does not address the older adult asking at age 50 or older what they can do now to prevent dementia.

“Dementia pathology starts decades before diagnosis is made,” Sink said. “What can they do now? Stay cognitively active.”