“Reducing Dementia Risk: How Using the Internet for 2 Hours or Less a Day Can Help Seniors”

2023-05-14 00:16:47

Seniors who use the internet two hours or less a day appear to lower their risk of dementia, a new study shows.

New York University researchers found, by studying some 18,000 subjects between the ages of 50 and 65 for a median duration of 8 years, that those who regularly used the internet had about half the risk of dementia than those who did not. -users. The lowest risk of dementia was measured in people who used the internet between six minutes and two hours a day. On the other hand, excessive use for more than six hours a day could increase the risk. It is therefore important to strike a fair balance between non-use and unreasonable use. “I’m not surprised,” commented the holder of the Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging and Brain Plasticity at the University of Montreal, Professor Sylvie Belleville.

“My interpretation is that older people who had learned to use a computer had become more familiar with it and they were less impressed by it. And maybe it created a kind of virtuous circle where these people started to try other technologies, to try to go more on the Internet, and so on. Different factors such as gender, ethnic origin and level of education of the participants did not influence the results one way or the other. On the other hand, the New York researchers admit that it cannot be ruled out that seniors with the best cognitive health from the outset are more likely than others to use the Internet, even if they have tried to control this variable. Fundamentally, Ms. Belleville said, it’s not just internet use that’s at issue here. “When you go on the internet, you have access to a whole world,” she recalled.

The Internet thus offers quick and easy access to several stimulating activities from a cognitive point of view: in a single two-hour session, you can play poker with partners around the world, discover the collection of the Museum of Natural History from New York and brush up on his Spanish as we prepare for an upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic. We can therefore assume that the elders in whom the researchers measured a positive effect did not spend multiple hours a day watching cat videos on YouTube. The researchers also ignored, in their results, the time devoted to viewing films online. “It suggests that these people have stimulated themselves intellectually, that they have learned new things, that they have come out of their comfort zone, said Ms. Belleville. Or maybe they stayed in contact with people or they are people who are less isolated. So it’s interesting. »

Even solving the problems that one may encounter while browsing the web can have a stimulating effect on the brain. Seniors constantly wonder about the impact Internet use can have on their cognitive health, said Ms. Belleville, “because we have this kind of idea that if we go on the Internet, we don’t not stimulate”. The internet is a form of intellectual stimulation that should not be demonized, she added. That being said, underlined Ms. Belleville, we must not lose sight of the fact that certain disadvantaged seniors or those living in remote areas may not have equal Internet access to that of others. “It means that somewhere, there is a social impact of public health issues, she said. So maybe open up the internet more widely. Maybe also, for example, in community settings, teaching the use of the internet to older people who come from backgrounds where they may not have had the chance to learn it. So that means that by doing that, by perhaps equipping people a little, we have an impact on their brains. »

The findings of this study are awaiting publication by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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